Seidl should be sure Norris follows him to Audi’s F1 staff

When Andreas Seidl begins his new position as Sauber CEO in January his first precedence will in all probability be hiring a brand new Components 1 staff principal.

Setting in movement the tried recruitment of Lando Norris for Audi ought to be excessive on his agenda as effectively.

Seidl is leaving McLaren to make a transfer that can in the end lead to him heading the Audi F1 programme that Sauber is formally known as the “strategic associate” for.

As Sauber CEO, he’s anticipated to supervise Audi’s F1 mission: automotive, engine, drivers, the lot.

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Audi has grand F1 ambitions and an immense potential. It wants a top-line driver and that may – no, ought to – be Norris.

Trendy F1 rewards groups that construct themselves round a driver.

These ‘franchise drivers’ exist in all places: Max Verstappen at Crimson Bull, Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton (and ultimately George Russell) at Mercedes. Norris is supposed to be that at McLaren.

Audi will want the identical sort of driver to guide this mission, which implies figuring out the choices now, as a result of loads of the youthful drivers are on extraordinarily long-term offers – Verstappen’s runs to 2028, Leclerc’s and Norris’s to 2025.

That’s a good distance forward for groups on the present grid to consider nevertheless it means these drivers shall be available on the market proper as Audi enters F1.

And Norris is the proper goal given his circumstances: a contract that’s expiring, inventory that’s solely rising, and in the end a query mark over what McLaren can obtain.

That ultimate level is essential as a result of a mixture of free company and alternative make Norris a sensible goal. He ought to be prime of Audi’s shortlist and Seidl’s imminent arrival solely strengthens the case.

Seidl was one of many most important causes many, together with Norris, have had religion within the McLaren mission. Different elements performed into why Norris was eager to decide to McLaren for thus lengthy however the reality is Seidl is one in all them.

They’ve an excellent relationship, and Seidl charges Norris extraordinarily extremely.

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“If you happen to take a look at Lando’s efficiency this 12 months, it’s one other affirmation that he has all the things he wants so as to be among the best ones on this paddock,” Seidl advised The Race on the finish of the 2022 season.

“What I see after I take a look at Lando’s efficiency this 12 months is that he made one other step by way of how he’s persistently pulling it off within the qualifying periods, within the races. We see hardly any errors on his facet in qualifying, within the races.

“By way of how he’s approaching race weekends collectively together with his engineering crew, by way of how he’s studying races so as to optimise the result of a end result collectively together with his engineers, how he communicates, it’s clearly one other step that I’m seeing.”

As for Norris, the potential of the Audi programme is sky-high – increased than McLaren’s given will probably be a bona fide works staff.

Norris can afford to maintain his religion in McLaren within the short-term however he has made no secret of the very fact it’s irritating at instances to be driving higher than ever however having to place up with a automotive that was really worse in 2022 than 2021.

He acquired a style of semi-regular podiums and even with the ability to battle for a few poles final 12 months so the step again this season was painful.

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McLaren has time to maintain Norris on facet, however not loads of it. Norris is keen to attend to see if the much-vaunted infrastructure tasks – the brand new windtunnel and simulator – repay with the 2024 and 2025 automobiles.

His loyalty so far has been admirable. However whereas he has been eager to repay McLaren’s religion in him with a few contract extensions in recent times, and has talked in regards to the consolation and safety that comes with locking down a seat in F1 long-term, he could be silly to signal any new deal between now and 2024, on the earliest.

There isn’t a doubt that Norris has now established himself as one in all F1’s top-bracket drivers. Even when he’s but to conclusively show he’s a Verstappen or a Hamilton, or perhaps a Leclerc given he’s by no means had an opportunity to often battle for wins, he’s very a lot a part of F1’s elite future.

Consequently, he’ll command consideration from many of the groups with seats going on the subject of negotiating his subsequent contract. He doesn’t want to fret about safety. If there’s a sniff of free company about him, he’ll be combating groups off with a stick.

A kind of ought to be Audi. That was the case earlier than Seidl and it’s positively the case now he’s going there.

Seidl is a superb weapon for Audi to deploy: somebody with a pre-existing Norris relationship, who will understand how he thinks, who has his belief and could have the within monitor of simply how good the Audi progress is behind the scenes so can provide Norris an aggressive and sincere pitch.

It could be that McLaren makes sufficient progress for Norris to stay dedicated, or maybe the consolation of remaining loyal will trump the dangers related to formidable strikes elsewhere.

However F1 has tended to reward drivers who’ve been proactive and intelligent with their profession decisions and moved on the proper time. Hamilton is the mannequin instance – coincidentally, he additionally needed to go away McLaren after a long-running affiliation.

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Drivers need to act of their greatest curiosity in the event that they wish to succeed. To tempt Norris, Audi ought to be tapping into that with all it has. Now, ‘all it has’ contains the very staff boss Norris has been so complimentary of at McLaren.

There shall be loads of choices for Audi to contemplate because it weighs up a driver line-up it has three full years to ponder, and will probably be a extremely coveted seat.

So, Seidl and his new colleagues could not have to fret an excessive amount of about chasing candidates. Norris, although, could be effectively value making the hassle for.

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