McLaren needs another big upgrade to catch Red Bull

"Only the next races will show how big it really is"


7 May 2024 - 12:39
McLaren needs another big upgrade (...)

Carlos Sainz and now Lando Norris’ race wins within the first six grands prix of 2024 shows that Max Verstappen’s grip on Formula 1 may now be easing.

Miami was not a smooth weekend for the Red Bull driver, who was hurt by the timing of the safety car on Sunday and also suffered damage by striking a bollard.

"There was a hole in the floor," Verstappen revealed. "But I don’t think that’s why. We didn’t have enough pace."

Indeed, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also believes Norris and McLaren deserved the win on merit.

"I don’t think I could have won," he said. "McLaren was too strong. But I did have the same speed as Max."

While Oscar Piastri needs to wait until Imola for the full package, Norris was at the wheel of a major McLaren upgrade in Miami - dubbed the "B version" of the 2024 car by team CEO Zak Brown.

Ferrari will have a big upgrade on its car at Imola.

"It will also be a very important upgrade," Leclerc said. "It will determine how the rest of our season plays out. I’m looking forward to that and I hope that we can take a big step forward.

"It’s going to be an arms race of upgrades this year, and I’m glad that we’ll soon have new parts on our car that will hopefully be as good as McLaren’s."

Frederic Vasseur is playing down Ferrari’s Imola upgrade.

"We are at the point in the development of the car where if you put something new on the car it is not a matter of seconds, it is a matter of tenths," said the Ferrari team boss.

"It’s not like years ago when every new thing brought 3-4 tenths," he added. "There is a gap that varies from track to track, from compound to compound, and it is a bigger difference than an update.

"The update at Imola will certainly help us, but it will depend more on the work we do on the track."

Indeed, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella is not getting carried away about the Miami upgrade, insisting Red Bull and Verstappen "didn’t have a clean weekend".

His Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner agrees: "McLaren have taken a step, but only the next races will show how big it really is."

Stella added: "If we want to challenge Red Bull in the long term, we need another (upgrade) package like this one."

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher says those who think Verstappen is still dominating more than ever are wrong.

"This is an exciting season," he told Sky Deutschland. "The pressure is coming from all sides. Ferrari has gotten stronger, but now McLaren has too.

"We’ll have to wait a few more races to see how that develops, because the asphalt in Miami is special and Red Bull seems to struggle more in these conditions, as is the case in Singapore.

"Either way, I’m convinced that we haven’t seen Lando Norris’ last victory of the season."

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