Marko believes Norris in same league as Max

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Lando Norris talk and laugh. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull and Lando Norris, McLaren, laugh as they talk. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Helmut Marko believes this year’s title race will be a two-driver fight between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

The reason being, the only driver he feels is capable of challenging them is Lando Norris but his McLaren isn’t up to the task.

Verstappen’s title defence is not off to the perfect start, the Red Bull driver either winning or retiring in the first four races of this season.

Adding insult to injury, both DNFs have been while the Dutchman was running as high as P2, robbing him of 34 points.

He bounced back with a perfect score at Formula 1’s first sprint weekend of the season, Imola, taking pole position, winning the sprint race and the grand prix while also setting the fastest lap.

He took the win ahead of Sergio Perez with McLaren driver Norris up in third, his first podium of this season with the Briton on the up as he has gone from a no-score to P7, P5 and now P3.

But while Marko has been impressed with Norris, he doesn’t believe McLaren have a car capable of putting him in the title fight.

He told Auto Motor und Sport: “The only talented driver I still see in this league is Lando Norris, but he doesn’t have the best material at the moment.”

Marko isn’t the only one singing Norris’ praises of late.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who earlier this season signed the 22-year-old to a new long-term contact, believes his driver is up there with Formula 1’s best.

He told the F1 Nation podcast : “He is, in my opinion, as good as anyone in Formula 1 – unbelievably fast.

“There are a lot of fast drivers in Formula 1, but the part that I’m most impressed [about] with Lando is how few mistakes he makes – and his mistakes are small.

“A track limits [violation], locked up a brake, you haven’t seen him many times put the car in the fence, run wide of a corner under pressure and make a mistake.

“He’s, I think, as far as pure natural talent, I think he has as much as anyone in Formula 1.”

Norris is P6 in the Drivers’ Championship with 35 points.


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