Marko names McLaren as likely 2024 title challenger

Dr Helmut Marko has named McLaren as perhaps the biggest challenger to Red Bull’s current dominance of Formula 1 for 2024.

His prediction comes after McLaren’s major resurgence this season following a less impressive start to 2023, with Oscar Piastri winning the sprint race at Qatar from pole and his teammate Lando Norris the next-best challenger.

“They are our most regular pursuers now and they are still gaining momentum,” Red Bull team advisor Marko told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

Even McLaren team boss Andrea Stella is not rejecting Marko’s forecast.

“It was a very positive weekend for us,” he told the Austrian broadcaster ORF. “We are the second fastest car and that is really good for the future.

“I’m happy that we can contribute to the spectacle of making Formula 1 more exciting.”

Marko said that despite Max Verstappen’s utter dominance this year, the team had to keep its eye on McLaren throughout the Qatar weekend.

“We set our pace according to McLaren,” he revealed.

“This is noteworthy and it’s scary that it happens on every circuit now. It could possibly be a tough battle with them next year.

“The others couldn’t keep up with McLaren and us,” Marko added, referring chiefly to Red Bull’s fellow top teams Mercedes and Ferrari.

Corriere dello Sport newspaper in Italy, meanwhile, said Verstappen standing alongside Australian rookie Piastri and Norris on Sunday was “the podium of the future”.

Ferrari’s Frederic Vasseur, however, isn’t so sure.

“I would say that McLaren is now the second fastest team,” he admitted, “but Qatar and Suzuka have common characteristics, with a succession of fast corners.

“We were probably better than McLaren in Monza and Singapore. So let’s wait and see for the next races, starting with Austin. That circuit has a mix of everything, so we can understand where we really are.”

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