Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

‘Two is better than one’ for McLaren in fight against Red Bull – Norris

Formula 1

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Lando Norris believes McLaren’s driver line-up is a key advantage for the team in the constructors’ championship, which is currently led by Red Bull.

He and team mate Oscar Piastri have taken 48 and 40 points respectively over the last three races. While Max Verstappen has scored 58 for Red Bull his team mate Sergio Perez has contributed just four.

Having lost significant ground to Red Bull over the opening four races, Norris admits it’s “between Ferrari and us” in the championship for second place at the moment. “We’ll keep pushing and I think that’s one of our biggest strengths at the minute,” he said. “We have two drivers as McLaren who are up there not making mistakes and getting pretty much everything out of the car every single weekend.

“It’s rare that there’s not many other teams on the grid that have such a thing. So for us, it’s more out of what we can do against Ferrari.

“We’ve been a more consistent team coming into this weekend. They’ve had some mistakes and just struggled a little bit more for whatever reason.”

However he also noted “two is going to be better than one, you know, in Max’s case.”

“So we’re doing a good job, but we still need to keep pushing on and try and bring more upgrades and things like that. Because with Mercedes joining, it’s only going to make it harder to score big points like we did today.”

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Last weekend’s race was the second in a row where Perez failed to reach Q1 and did not finish the race. Red Bull extended his contract to drive for them between the two rounds.

Verstappen said “the damage was done” before the race for Perez in Canada due to his struggles in qualifying. “Starting in the back, it’s very hard in these conditions.

“Then, of course, I saw him retire with the damage. So I knew that I had to score big, of course, to not let the other teams catch up a lot.”

However he believes the team will remain in a strong position as long as he keeps winning races, as he has done in six of the nine rounds so far.

“As long as you keep winning, so you score 25 points, even if the others finish P2, P3, you don’t really lose out too much. And then you kind of can afford sometimes these one-offs.”

Verstappen backed Perez to rebounded from his recent slump. “Naturally, we always want the two cars to be up there,” he said. “I have no doubt that will change very soon again.

“So we just need to work on our car, to be honest, to make it a bit easier to drive. Also, probably, to feel a bit more comfortable, and then I’m sure that we have both cars back up there like we had in the beginning of the season.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “‘Two is better than one’ for McLaren in fight against Red Bull – Norris”

  1. Bottas would do wonders in that wingman role at RedBull. Seems the most logical (since it is proven) choice to me.

    1. Same with Aston. Imagine a Alonso and Bottas line up? not too shabby.

      1. What did Stroll do wrong?
        He had a really good weekend!

        1. Agree, the anti-stroll comments are getting a bit much, after he has a good weekend there’s not much to criticise and not much bottas would’ve done better, he just needs to be more consisten if he wants to be a bottas.

          1. after he has a good weekend there’s not much to criticise

            …so you’re telling me that after he has a bad weekend he exclusively deserves criticism, right? Memory of a goldfish forever?

      2. don’t you mean stroll and bottas ?

    2. That’s a very interesting combination. I must admit I had not even considered that.

    3. No, the Mercedes of the past and the RedBull are vastly different cars in the way they behave and drive, Bottas would be worse off.

      1. you don’t know that.

  2. Sergio is 34 and only on a downslide. I don’t know how he’s gonna handle being F1’s laughing stock almost every GP weekend for another 2 years. I hope he’s got a sports psychologist and if not he gets one asap.

    At some point it will spoil the mood in the whole team. Firstly, Sergio’s side of the garage has got to be demoralized! His mechanics do the same quality job as Max’s, but he gives them only failures in return.
    Horner has been doing excellent job in defending and explaining Sergio to the media. But even he can’t go on like this for ever.

    1. It’s not great for their brand, either. Red Bull Racing is meant to be part of Red Bull Drinks’ marketing campaign… showing it as this bold, driven, ambitious group that does audacious things.

      For years, its two Formula One teams embodied that, and indeed close to half the grid probably got their start with Red Bull… who pitted some of the best young guns against each other in yearly shootouts.

      Keeping Perez and Ricciardo in place is wasting that reputation, and closing off their chances of finding the next Verstappen… or even the next Ricciardo, Sainz, Albon, Gasly.

      1. Haven’t checked the facts, but I saw meme recently that Perez is generating 65% of the merch sales for Red Bull. And this is next to generational talent, 3 times WDC, soon to be 4. So maybe Perez is bringing enough brand and marketing value, despite his abysmal results.
        But lets admit, not a single person on this site care about this. We just want to see the best pilots against each other on the track and this should have been the final season for Sergio.

        1. I’ve seen that stat too. It effectively makes Perez a 35 year old pay driver, which seems very un-Red Bull

        2. @vasschu in a recent interview, Helmut Marko was also explicitly referencing Perez’s merchandising sales and commercial value in Central and Southern America as a reason for keeping him.

          Indeed, in the list of reasons for keeping Perez in the team, Marko’s first point was about keeping Max happy by picking Perez, with Perez’s commercial value being the next thing he emphasised. Perez’s actual ability as a driver was the last thing in the list that he commented on, giving the implication that the first two items were of greater consideration to Red Bull than the third.

        3. That is because Max has he own fan shop if Red Bull would combine this i think the numbers would be much different.

  3. *tin foil hat on*
    Red Bull are probably hoping Ferrari and McLaren finish ahead of them in constructors with 2026 on the doorstep. Tanking has happened in just about every sport that has benefits to finishing lower in the ladder, and in F1 you can finish lower down the ladder, but still take the top prize. Everything is hidden from the driver, how could Perez possibly know if he’s getting an equal car. It’s a weird one.

    1. Tristan, I like your tin foil hat, very stylish!
      In all seriousness though, do you think Perez would be deliberately given an inferior car? In the same machinery he’s not going to beat Verstappen on pace. I always find it hard to believe that, after all the money spent and effort undertaken, any team would ever intentionally damage their own performance. I’m sure that a 1-2 in the drivers championship along with winning the constructors is what all teams would dearly love.

      1. Yeah it’s obviously a ridiculous stretch with like a .01% chance of being true, buttt so is the CIA tracking our brainwaves through satellites :P better safe than sorry!

      2. BMW P85 V10
        12th June 2024, 19:33

        I can imagine that Perez will be given a different car at the end of the season when the budget cap is almost reached, and spare parts of the latest spec will all be reserved for Max, still fighting for his 4th WDC.
        This early in the season I can’t imagine.
        Maybe they hoped Ferrari would already passed them halfway the season for constructors.

    2. *pulls old roasting bag over head as hasn’t got any foil*

      What about if Red Bull and Liberty have come to an arrangement because F1 was just getting too boring to interest even the lowest of IQ’s?
      They can flash the cash to make it work after all.

      1. @nullapax, that thought has crossed my mind more than once! But I think no amount of money is worth that risk to Red Bull. Things can change so quickly in a season, they wouldn’t want to risk it. Plus, total domination may not be great for F1 but I bet it’s great for Red Bull drinks.

        [Puts crystal ball back in pocket alongside other one.]

    3. I want one too! Where can I find your fancy tin foil hat?

  4. “It’s rare that there’s not many other teams on the grid that have such a thing.

    Is it, though?

    Most of the grid is actually pretty well matched up. It’s mainly Red Bull, Aston Martin and Williams that have a big difference between their two drivers. Maybe if Zhou keeps underperforming as he has this year one could add Sauber, but the Bottas-Zhou line-up has been much closer than many expected.

    And Piastri still tends to trail off towards the end of the races. He’s getting better, but he’s still not getting the most out of the tyres over a full race distance. Hopefully he learns. But Bottas at Mercedes never did, for example. It remained a weakness of his throughout his stint at the team. Maybe it still is, but it’s largely irrelevant now.

    1. Bottas is embarassing Zhou. Only time Zhou looked promising was the second half of 2022.

  5. This is so humiliating, for the driver and the team. I understand Checo’s motives (financial if nothing else), but not the team. I feel unpleasant watching this, so how does Checo feel? Why are they allowing this? If they couldn’t bring Sainz for personal reasons, they still could plan ahead and secure someone else. Worst case scenario – it wouldn’t be any worse than this. RB have managed to be the best and the biggest mockery at the same time, which is impressive in itself. Okay, Williams always have a second driver that spins around like crazy and brings SC/RF to many races, and AM have daddy’s boy, but RB doesn’t need to be in such company.

    1. True, I was kinda relieved when sargeant retired, cause drivers who can’t keep a car straight like him can also negatively affect a race, causing SC and red flags at bad moments.

  6. Perez is a walking punching bag these days.

    Let’s see when they get to Austria again and he repeats the same mistakes of last season. He already did it in Monaco and Canada i doubt he won’t there.

  7. with that car, doing a good work on saturday is like 90% of the job. Perez has decent pace and usually can keep up with the others but is often out of position due to poor saturdays.

    Bottas or Hulkenberg would fit much better to the job they expect him to do.

    1. Albon and Gasly didn’t. Fans wanted Albon out. Perez in. They got their wish. Now enjoy the happy times.

      1. There was also the racepace difference back then which Perez score very well. But maybe it’s his age that he is dropping but confidence of Perez could be here the main factor.

        Albon would be now a much beter choice as he has experience under pressure now.

        1. It’s the same thing every top team who is winning does. They keep their out of sorts 2nd driver for as long as they can. It doesn’t matter who the 2nd driver is when they are comfortably winning with their 1st driver. Barrichello, Bottas, Webber all stayed for 5 or more seasons.

  8. A genuine driver would be cutting into Verstappen’s numbers at least by 25%.

    1. Based on what? If Max still scores first and a genuine driver second it cost Max nothing.

      1. Because a good driver will have days he excels. You don’t think Sainz would score any wins or poles over a season against Max? If so, simply look at Max when he had Ricciardo as a teammate and don’t try to bring up inexperience either. Those were his third through fifth seasons.

  9. the second in a row where Perez failed to reach Q1

    I know he’s on a poor run, but…

    1. Ahah, that’s a good one, guessing he was well above the 107% limit compared to the best lap, so they didn’t think letting him join quali made much sense!

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