Stella was formerly a McLaren executive director but took over day-to-day running of the F1 squad following the winter departure of team principal Andreas Seidl to Sauber.

Seidl remains highly rated in the paddock, but Stella gained plaudits throughout 2023 for overhauling the McLaren technical structure, which paved the way for an aggressive run of upgrades that turned the MCL60 into a car capable of regularly putting pressure on Red Bull.

McLaren staff also like the aspirational precedent that has been set, since the Italian engineer was promoted from within to the top job. They also rate Stella as a very effective communicator.

For these reasons, Norris reckons there is no better candidate to lead McLaren. Asked by whether the paddock was right to be so won over by Stella, he replied: “[I feel] exactly the same.

“I did an interview the other day [in Abu Dhabi], and I just said big thanks to him… I think it's not everything just on him. You've got to thank a lot of other people in the team, because they're the ones who have done a lot of the work.

“Andrea is just the director of it all. He's the producer of the set, and everyone else is the cast but you need everyone to work together very well. That's what they're doing. So, he's done an amazing job. I'm very, very happy with having him where he is.

“He still does a lot for the team every single weekend in terms of racing and qualifying and all of that. But I can't ask for a better team principal.”

Andrea Stella at Brazilian GP 2023

On Stella’s watch, McLaren has made high-profile signings. Ferrari head of chassis David Sanchez was hired, while long-serving Red Bull chief engineering officer Rob Marshall will officially start work in Woking on 1 January 2024 as the engineering and design boss.

Next year’s car will also be the first to gain input from the team’s new on-site wind tunnel, which will avoid renting and freighting test items to the Toyota facility in Cologne.

These steps to improve McLaren’s performance will be key in convincing Norris to sign a new contract, with the Briton’s current paperwork due to expire at the end of 2025.

The driver added: “I'm very excited… We have some new hirings… I'm excited because we're finally on the right track and we know which direction to push.”

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