Zak Brown: Red Bull-Norris talk simply ‘stirring’

McLaren boss Zak Brown has stepped the team back from the Formula 1 driver market for the time being.

The Woking-situated squad confirmed before the Japanese GP that their latest star, standout Australian beginner Oscar Piastri, is set to remain at McLaren possibly even longer than Lando Norris.

The fresh contract for 22-year-old Piastri stretches all the way to 2026, outlasting Norris’ existing agreement by a year.

By that point, the Australian will have turned 25, but he’s already considering a long-haul career in Formula 1, much like Lewis Hamilton, who recently renewed his Mercedes contract for another two years.

“I’ve got 18 years until I get there,” Piastri smiled.

“If I’m still driving race cars and loving what I’m doing at 40, I think that’s a pretty good 18 years of my life well spent.

“Of course, the higher up you get the more pressure there is, and other commitments and stuff like that, but I’d be quite happy if I’m racing at that age, I think.”

As for Norris, he’s locked in at McLaren until 2025, and Red Bull has openly indicated its interest in the British driver beyond that period.

Norris suggested he might be willing to partner with his mate Max Verstappen someday.

“I think he was just responding to a question he was asked,” Brown said regarding the Norris-Red Bull chatter. “I think everyone else is stirring it.

“I think they’re good buddies. I think if you ask any racing driver if they want to race another competitor, I think you’ll always get an answer of ‘oh I’d love to be Lewis’ teammate, or Max’s teammate or Fernando’s teammate.’

“So I think everyone has taken a question he has answered and made more out of it, and that’s just Formula 1. But he’s in a good place right now.”

Even if Red Bull does aim for Norris, McLaren can now depend on Piastri for the long haul.

“He’s maturing quickly,” said Brown. “He’s becoming increasingly competitive. He’s fulfilling all our expectations.

“I think the duo of Lando and Oscar is a pretty formidable driving team. We’re exceptionally pleased with both our drivers.”