It’s quite unusual for Formula 1 teams to make driver line-up announcements this early in the year.
Sure, Sainz has raced for Toro Rosso and Renault, but he’s never before been the most experienced driver in a team and the one they rely on for feedback, while Norris may have embedded himself in the team before his debut but he is nonetheless still a rookie.
Sainz thoroughly deserves his seventh place in the drivers’ championship, the best of the rest outside the top three teams while Norris has started fifth in each of the last two races and would have a higher points tally had it not been for unreliability beyond his control.
Sainz knew when he started that he would be at the team for at least two seasons, the Spaniard eloquently talking about how that kind of commitment from McLaren, after years of one-year deals, gave him an immense amount of confidence.
Norris, of course, has been on Red Bull’s radar when they were looking to find a driver for Toro Rosso in 2017 – and his performances so far his year will no doubt have had a few other teams interested.
Sainz, meanwhile, having been overlooked by Red Bull in favour of Gasly, is marking himself out as a driver that can deliver the maximum from a package – a F1 team’s dream.
Team mate challenge: Sainz vs. Norris at skydiving It also closes the door to Fernando Alonso, who has been lurking in the shadows since leaving F1 at the end of the year.