Christian Horner’s verdict on McLaren with key admission made following Miami defeat

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner and Lando Norris.

Christian Horner has weighed in on McLaren's improved pace after their raft of upgrades in Miami.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted McLaren have “definitely made a step forward” after their raft of upgrades at the Miami Grand Prix.

Lando Norris made the most of a well-timed Safety Car to take the lead of the race from Max Verstappen on Sunday, but he impressively extended his lead throughout the second half of proceedings to take a hard-earned maiden Formula 1 victory, defeating the dominant Red Bull RB20 in the process.

Christian Horner: McLaren have ‘definitely made a step forward’

The FIA’s upgrade ‘show and tell’ document provides fans and media the opportunity to see what changes have been made to the cars ahead of each race weekend, and McLaren in particular raised eyebrows with a huge 10 upgrades having been brought to the car for Miami.

All of these new parts were placed on Norris’ car and half were available for team-mate Oscar Piastri, with the rest to be on his car at the next round in Imola, and the nature of the changes prompted McLaren CEO Zak Brown to tell Sky Sports that the MCL38 resembled almost a B-spec car with these upgrades in place.

And having beaten Red Bull and Max Verstappen in a straight fight in Miami – albeit with the reigning World Champion purportedly carrying damage after a collision with a bollard – the team principal was asked how much of a threat McLaren look set to be moving forward.

“They’ve obviously won the race, they had good pace in the second half of the race,” Horner said of McLaren after the chequered flag in Miami.

“They were quick on the medium in the sprint race quali, but we still managed two poles earlier this weekend, the sprint victory and we were leading the race had it not been for the Safety Car – but you can see they’ve definitely made a step forward.

“So it will be then interesting to see what happens over the next few races now once we head back to Europe.

“McLaren showed real pace last year at certain times, so how circuit specific is it? We’ll see as we go through the next few races, but they’ve been very strong this weekend and Lando deserves the win.”

More on how McLaren secured their mighty Miami victory

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For Norris himself, he admitted the upgrade package McLaren brought played its part in helping him compete at the front over the weekend – though he was full of confidence that the team could compete for race wins regardless this season.

“I said at the beginning of the year we could win races. A lot of people doubted what I could say and the fact that I said that,” he said after the race.

“I think they doubted that McLaren could win races. They doubted that I could win races, but I was confident. Deep down I knew that we had our time coming.

“So the team have done an amazing job. We weren’t even into Q2 here last year, so now the fact we’re on top, we’ve won a race, the team have done an insane job to kind of go from where we were to where we are now.

“And we’ve chipped away, especially the last couple of months. There’s been a lot of hard work and whenever you bring an upgrade, it’s not easy to kind of just go out and execute and just show that it’s better.

“But little things come together and when you have all these little bits coming together, it turns into a perfect day like it did today. So, of course, I have to say a big thanks to all of McLaren, everyone back in the factory, everyone that’s here, because I doubt… It would have been a lot less likely that I won today without these upgrades and without the hard work that they’ve been putting into everything.”

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