Eddie Jordan believes only a hypothetical team pairing of Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris would be capable of taking on Max Verstappen over a season in Formula 1.
The Red Bull driver is already heavy favourite to make it four consecutive World Championships before a wheel has even been turned in 2024, but there is hope throughout the paddock that the fight can be taken to Red Bull after a record-breaking year from the Dutchman.
With 19 race victories from 22, Verstappen set a daunting benchmark for his rivals to try and match last season, and former eponymous team principal Jordan has had his say on who he thinks would potentially be able to challenge him.
Eddie Jordan: One driver pairing could take on Max Verstappen over a season
On the prospect of owning a team again and having to pick two drivers to challenge the reigning World Champion, Jordan highlighted Leclerc as the one to do it, with Norris as his team-mate.
He reasoned that the other World Champions on the grid, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, may not be able to keep pace with Verstappen anymore due to their age, but younger talents like the current Ferrari and McLaren drivers would be the ones he would pick now, given the choice.
“If I had a top team now and didn’t get Max, there would only be one driver pairing capable of taking on Verstappen: Charles Leclerc and as team-mate Lando Norris,” Jordan told German publication F1-Insider.
“I simply don’t believe that Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who are well-deserved champions, would be able to keep up with Verstappen due to their advanced age.”
On the same subject, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko believes a pairing of Leclerc and Norris could pose problems but their consistency is what has let them down.
On top of that, he believes Verstappen has not actually found his peak performance – which is an ominous sign for those looking to chase down the Red Bull driver in future.
“Leclerc and Norris are certainly exceptional talents, but both have shown weaknesses in consistency in the past,” Marko told F1-Insider.
“What’s more, Max is not yet at the limit. He will get even better. It’s our job to provide him with a car as good as the one he had in 2023. Then he will be the benchmark again.”