McLaren racing ahead to dethrone Red Bull & retain Norris?

Following a strong performance in China where Lando Norris followed home Max Verstappen, McLaren is now focusing its efforts on surpassing Red Bull – eventually.

Since the outset of 2024, McLaren has maintained a rather subdued yet stable presence, comfortably positioned between Ferrari and Mercedes.

Lando Norris humorously wagered with his engineer last Sunday that he’d finish 35 seconds behind the closest Ferrari during the Chinese Grand Prix. Defying expectations, Norris managed to outpace both Ferrari drivers. “I was very wrong,” he admitted with a grin.

Under a contract with McLaren until 2026, Norris has nevertheless caught the attention of Red Bull’s Dr. Helmut Marko, who has expressed his interest in the 24-year-old on multiple occasions over the past fortnight.

After sharing the podium in China, Norris returned to Europe aboard Verstappen’s private jet. Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, observed, “Lando was consistent, good tyre degradation – surprising given that Oscar Piastri was struggling.”

As McLaren prepares for the next race, so too do Ferrari and Mercedes, all planning to reveal significant vehicle enhancements at the upcoming Miami Grand Prix.

McLaren’s team leader Andrea Stella confidently stated, “I believe that we can still beat Red Bull this year.” He further elaborated, “We seemed to lose ground because we gained so much ground when Red Bull weren’t developing,” adding, “Over a longer period, we’re on a strong trajectory.”

Stella optimistically remarked, “If we keep this up for the next 12 months, why not?” emphasizing the team’s long-term potential.

Maintaining Norris might become challenging unless McLaren can produce a consistently competitive car, especially with Red Bull openly courting the young driver.

“His father always jokes that Lando won’t win a grand prix until Max retires,” Marko commented in Shanghai, humorously suggesting, “I told him that he has to come to us, then he would definitely go faster.”

Just a few days before, Marko had noted the potential interest in both Norris and Piastri as future prospects for Red Bull.

While Sergio Perez remained hopeful about his prospects at Red Bull in China, Marko hinted that his initial three-year contract proposal was no longer on the table.

The possibility of Verstappen and Norris teaming up in Formula 1 would certainly add excitement to the sport. Norris mentioned in Shanghai, “If you see the same driver winning every single time without a fight then of course it does start to become boring and that is obvious.” He added, “If Max wasn’t there and you had two Perez’s it wouldn’t be the case.”

GMM

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