In an interesting move aimed to further evaluate Lando Norris, McLaren has handed its junior driver an FP1 outing at Spa on Friday.
Norris will replace Fernando Alonso in the Belgian GP's opening free practice session, and if his performance is satisfactory the 18-year-old could be awarded additional FP1 outings later this season.
After recruiting Carlos Sainz to replace Alonso from 2019, McLaren has started the process of selecting the driver that shall be paired with the Spaniard next season.
Stoffel Vandoorne's position in the team has been called into question following the Belgian's very disappointing performance year-to-date. Needless to say, pitting Norris directly against Vandoorne will offer McLaren a chance to evaluate both men in terms of relative performance.
"This weekend will be the first time that our reserve driver Lando will drive the MCL33 during a race weekend, as he steps into Fernando’s car for FP1 on Friday," explained McLaren Sporting Director Gil de Ferran.
"This is not only part of his ongoing development, but also the evaluation and performance evolution of the car.
"We’ll be taking a strategic view race-by-race at where else this might be beneficial for us over the coming grands prix."
"Spa-Francorchamps has a well-deserved reputation as a racers’ circuit due to its historic significance and popularity among the drivers.
"We’ll be head down and pushing hard as usual to aim for points for both cars in front of our Belgian fans at Stoffel’s home race."
In addition to Vandoorne and Norris as potential contenders for McLaren's 2019 line-up, the team is also rumored to be interested in Mercedes protégé Esteban Ocon.
Currently at Force India alongside Sergio Perez, the Frenchman's seat appears to be under threat from Lance Stroll following his father's recent buy-out of the Silverstone-based team along with a consortium of investors.