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Despite Lando Norris Making Max Verstappen Nervy, Zak Brown Still Believes McLaren Is Yet to Catch up Ferrari and Red Bull

Anirban Aly Mandal

Despite Lando Norris Making Max Verstappen Nervy, Zak Brown Still Believes McLaren Is Yet to Catch up Ferrari and Red Bull

McLaren’s Lando Norris arguably provided Max Verstappen with one of the biggest challenges the Dutchman has ever faced during the ground-effects era of the sport at the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP. Although Verstappen took the chequered flag as the race-winner, he finished just 0.7 seconds ahead of Norris. Despite this strong performance from McLaren, CEO Zak Brown reckons his team is still behind Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of pace.

Speaking after the race, Brown was quoted by Junaid Samodien on X (formerly Twitter) as saying, “I think Red Bull have a great advantage, and are the team to beat. First, we need to catch Ferrari and then hope Mercedes don’t catch us. I am sure we can win more races.”

McLaren slashed their gap to Red Bull this season massively at the Miami GP the last time around. Debuting their first upgrade package of the season, the revised MCL38 led Lando Norris to his first-ever Grand Prix win.

The race at Imola was going to be a litmus test for the team. Throughout the weekend, both Norris and his teammate, Oscar Piastri, looked at ease with the MCL38.

During the race, Verstappen did pull a gap to Norris initially. But the last 10 laps saw Norris eat away Verstappen’s advantage as the reigning world champion suffered from rear degradation.

The #4 driver’s performance rouses expectations that McLaren will be challenging Red Bull for the remainder of the season. With McLaren having had two consecutive strong races, it now begs the question of whether they are stronger than Ferrari at the moment or not.

Is McLaren stronger than Ferrari at the moment?

Zak Brown’s words seem to reflect an alternate reality that was not visible on track during Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The Ferraris of both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were in the mix for podium places. However, the MCL38s had the legs on the Prancing Horse in terms of out-and-out pace.

Leclerc rounded off the final podium slot, more than seven seconds behind Norris. On the other hand, Sainz finished behind the McLaren of Piastri in fifth, more than twenty seconds behind both Norris and Verstappen.

Naturally, after the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP, the pecking order at the front of the grid has changed. McLaren and Red Bull look evenly matched with little to separate between them. Ferrari, however, despite their upgrades seem to be a step or two behind the leading pack at the moment.

Post Edited By:Vidit Dhawan

About the author

Anirban Aly Mandal

Anirban Aly Mandal


Anirban Aly Mandal is an F1 writer at The SportsRush, with over 1000 articles under his belt, Anirban's love for F1 started when he discovered a copy of F1 2014 on his computer. With over half a decade's worth of time spent religiously following the sport, he’s dived deep into the world of motorsports. However, Anirban's expertise goes beyond just writing - he has also written several academic papers focused on the domain of motorsports and the law. His passion for the sport is so immense that he aspires to work as a legal advisor in the most prestigious racing series in the world someday. When it comes to Formula 1, Anirban finds great pleasure in re-watching classic races and idolizes the likes of Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, and Sebastian Vettel. His top picks include Brazil '91, Silverstone '92, and Germany '19. Outside of the sport, Anirban is an avid sim racer, often found racing on titles like Assetto Corsa, F1 22, and Automobilista. Apart from his interests in gaming, Anirban has a keen interest in philosophy, literature and music.

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