Max Verstappen believes that Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are the strongest driver line-up of Red Bull’s F1 rivals. The Dutchman made this conclusion after McLaren secured another double-podium finish in Qatar.
McLaren is just 11 points behind Aston Martin in the constructors’ standings, and their trajectory suggests overtaking the Silverstone-based squad is an inevitability.
The MCL60 is establishing itself as the second-fastest car, following a series of sensational upgrades from Woking.
Andrea Stella’s personnel have continued to ride a wave of momentum since the Austrian GP. This only increased post-Singapore, where another update package addressed the team’s weakness in low-speed corners.
Not only is the British outfit likely to secure many more podiums in 2023, but they will surely be a huge threat to Red Bull next season. Moreover, the driver pairing of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri is proving increasingly effective.
The papaya team has a combination of youth, speed and increasingly (largely via Lando Norris) experience. Both its drivers are already well accomplished in their own right, especially after Piastri’s latest podiums.
Looking ahead to next season, Max Verstappen recognised the McLaren threat in Losail:
“I do think that as a team, they are probably the most consistent – compared to the others behind us.
“And I do think they have the best driver line-up out of all of them. So yeah, they are operating really well.
“And, yeah, it’s going to be interesting to the end of the year, but also, I think, the start of next year to see where everyone is at.”
There are many elite driver pairings across the front-running teams (McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, etc.). This has sparked some debate in recent events, especially after the Mercedes duo made contact last weekend.
A few tensions were also visible at McLaren in Losail after the team issued team orders to stop Lando Norris from pushing to overtake Piastri.
Whilst this was largely an afterthought in Qatar, it will be an important area to measure and observe in 2024. Zak Brown and Andrea Stella must ensure they can optimise such an exciting pairing.
With both drivers on multi-year contracts, McLaren’s pairing could become increasingly influential in Formula 1.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang