McLaren ‘copy better’ than others in Helmut Marko’s latest F1 pecking order verdict

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris, McLaren, 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

McLaren driver Lando Norris.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko hinted McLaren are running a competitive ‘copy’ of their car, with the Woking-based team among the chasing pack that are getting closer to the World Championship leaders.

Lando Norris took his first career win in Miami before running Max Verstappen close in Imola, with Oscar Piastri taking second behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in Monaco as Red Bull struggled for pace by comparison.

Helmut Marko: ‘Some copy better, and you can see the result at McLaren’

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

While Red Bull are still well clear in the Constructors’ standings and Verstappen holds a comfortable lead in the Drivers’ Championship at this early stage of the season, both McLaren and Ferrari appear to have made strides in closing the competitive gap to Red Bull from the start of the year.

Team principal Christian Horner owes that in part to the reigning champions being in the territory of the “law of diminishing returns” and others still have more performance to find, while Marko believes Red Bull’s rivals are looking to “copy” their example at the front of the field.

Red Bull have dominated the last two seasons in Formula 1 and teams copying the leading car is nothing new in the history of the sport, and Marko believes this is the case in the present day.

“We are now in our third year with the current regulations, and people are copying,” Marko said, as per Austrian publication OE24.

“Some copy better, and you can now see the result at McLaren. Ferrari has also constantly developed further.

“Our two drivers came to Monte Carlo enthusiastic and said that the car was great over the kerbs. But as soon as they were in the car, they said: undriveable!”

A closer look at the F1 2024 season to date

👉 The 10 drivers out of contract at the end of the F1 2024 season

👉 Calculated: The F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship without Max Verstappen

As of now, McLaren are catching Red Bull at the front – but team principal Andrea Stella is not sure if this represents the true competitive picture for now.

Instead, he is looking to wait for more races to take place to see if McLaren are able to maintain their competitive placing as it stands, with Red Bull having struggled over the kerbs and bumps of Imola and Monaco recently.

“I think the picture of competitiveness for Red Bull is not entirely clear to me,” Stella told media including in Monaco.

“Clearly, Imola and Monaco are two tracks in which riding kerbs and riding bumps is important for performance. To some extent in Miami as well, but not that much.

“So I think, for instance, our progress, I don’t think is just because we are more competitive on these kinds of characteristics. I think that’s more genuine – it’s just we have added good downforce onto the car.

“If anything, our two drivers are not happy with the behaviour on kerbs and bumps, here in Monaco, that’s potentially the main limitation we still face.

“But exactly what is going on with Red Bull? I’m not so sure. I think we need a few more races to find to find out because obviously we go [to the] next one to Canada, which is another one very demanding on kerbs and bumps.

“Then I think some tracks after Canada will tell us more about the competitiveness situation.”

Read next: Big new signing involving two former teams catches Fernando Alonso’s attention