McLaren explains reasons behind Norris F1 race engineer rotation

Norris generally races with his long-time race engineer Will Joseph manning the radio, but on occasion, Joseph has been swapping roles with Norris’ performance engineer Jose Manuel Lopez, including in various sessions over the last couple of race weekends.

When asked about the plan behind rotating race engineers, which is not that common across the grid, team principal Andrea Stella said the team wants to build enough cover for an exhausting 24-race calendar next year, while also raising the general experience level of Woking’s core group of engineers.

“The reason why you see there’s a group of engineers supporting each driver rather than the classic two or three engineers is because we want to attack a couple of objectives,” Stella explained.

“The first one is that we have 24 races and it starts to become a challenge, even at a personal level, to make sure you can cover all the races.

“This is in terms of planning but this is also in terms of what happens if we have an emergency and we need to substitute one of the race engineers, so we want to create a long bench or a long group of people that can support the driver.

“Without going into the specifics of one engineer or the other, I’m very pleased with how this process is leading to a very competent group of engineers that can interact with the drivers.”

Lopez has been Norris’ performance engineer since 2020 and has therefore already built a strong connection with his driver. The Spaniard was previously employed in F1 by Haas.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Erik Junius

Stella also said it is not just flexibility but also improving communication between the engineers themselves that is behind the move, with engineers picking up new nuances and getting a better understanding of each other’s needs by putting a different hat on for a session.

“It’s not all interacting with the drivers. It’s also for a race engineer, for instance, you need to interact with a strategist,” he added. “And you need to do it with the minimum amount of words, to communicate what you need to communicate, you need to understand each other in terms of terminology.

“So, there’s quite a lot that you need to get used to as part of race engineering and that’s why you see so much rotation because we need to expose all the engineers to as much experience as possible. So, that’s the reason why we do it and I’m very pleased with what I see happening.”

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When asked about Norris’ role in the process, Stella said: “Lando is happy and it’s in his own interest to grow his own engineers, because these are the guys that need to get him to go quick and achieve future success.

“A driver is not just on the receiving end in this process, he’s actually on the leading end and Lando is doing that very well.”

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