Helmut Marko pinpoints shared ‘weakness’ in duo plotting Max Verstappen challenge

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko. Canada June 2023.

Helmut Marko walks through the paddock.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko does not dispute the talent of Charles Leclerc or Lando Norris, but believes “consistency” is something which hinders both as they plot an F1 2024 title challenge against Max Verstappen.

There were precious few bumps in the road experienced by Verstappen on his way to a third World Championship in as many seasons, winning a staggering and record-breaking 19 of the 22 grands prix held in 2023.

With Red Bull winning 21 overall, the combination of Verstappen and Red Bull proved far too hot to handle, with a monumental task facing all those looking to defeat them in F1 2024.

Helmut Marko sees Charles Leclerc-Lando Norris ‘consistency’ issues

However, there is no shortage of motivation for the challenge, with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez all sizing up a push for the F1 2024 crown.

And two of these drivers, Leclerc and Norris, form the only driver pairing which former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan feels could put Verstappen under pressure.

“If I had a top team now and I didn’t get Max, there would only be one driver pairing capable of taking on Verstappen: Charles Leclerc and, as a team-mate, Lando Norris,” Jordan told F1-Insider.com.

“Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, well-deserved champions indeed, I simply don’t trust anymore to be able to keep up with Verstappen because of their advanced age.”

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Marko, who oversees the Red Bull driver programme, would then have his say on Jordan’s claim.

While he views Leclerc and Norris as “extraordinary talents”, he believes they lack the consistency of Verstappen, who he warns is not yet even at the peak of his powers.

“Certainly, Leclerc and Norris are extraordinary talents,” Marko responded. “But both have shown weaknesses in consistency in the past.

“What’s more, Max isn’t at his limit yet. It’s going to get even better. It’s our job to provide him with a similarly good car as in 2023. Then it will be the benchmark again.”

Verstappen will equal Sebastian Vettel’s tally of four World titles on the trot with Red Bull should he retain the crown in F1 2024, while it is also a huge year on the other side of the garage for Perez, as he bids to earn a contract extension.

Should Red Bull look to replace the Mexican racer, then Norris has been consistently mentioned as a driver they may turn to.

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