UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' Lando Norris will replace retired world champion Jenson Button as McLaren’s test and reserve driver next season, the Formula One team announced on Monday.
The 17-year-old has been part of McLaren’s Young Driver program since the start of the year and is expected to compete in Formula Two in 2018 after winning the European Formula Three championship this year.
“Lando is an outstanding young talent. Today’s announcement is thoroughly deserved, and underlines the incredible high regard in which we hold his abilities," said McLaren executive director Zak Brown in a statement.
"His summer test for McLaren was also remarkably impressive, and was further proof that he is ready to step up and take on a role of this size, scope and responsibility.
“At McLaren, we are all extremely keen to help him achieve his goal of racing in Formula One."
(GMM) The driver market is still simmering at the tail end of 2017.
Over the weekend, Felipe Massa announced his second and final retirement, with Robert Kubica, Paul di Resta, Pascal Wehrlein and Daniil Kvyat in the mix to replace him.
But the next announcement is actually expected to come out of McLaren, who are replacing Jenson Button as the official reserve driver.
New European F3 champion Lando Norris, 17, is expected to get the job, with McLaren executive Zak Brown saying he is a Max Verstappen of the future.
"100 per cent," the American told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"In the Hungary tests, I've never seen a driver with as much natural talent."
Some believe the Woking based team will make the announcement in Brazil this week.
But a McLaren spokesperson said: "The team is not in a position to confirm anything at this time."
That could be because Daniil Kvyat, the newly axed Red Bull driver, is also in the running.
McLaren team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Russian media as saying Kvyat "would not be a bad option for any team".