McLaren lock Red Bull firmly in their sights with F1 2024 tease

Thomas Maher
Red Bull and McLaren battle on track.

Red Bull and McLaren battle.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown reckons World Champions Red Bull are “definitely beatable” heading into the 2024 F1 season.

After a lethargic start to the 2023 F1 season, McLaren’s upgrades proved extremely effective and unlocked a huge amount of performance from the MCL60 – elevating Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri to the point where the Australian rookie has won a Sprint race, while Norris has been a regular frontrunner and podium finisher.

Having secured another podium finish at the Circuit of The Americas, with Norris claiming second place after the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton, the Woking-based team have moved to fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship and just 80 points behind Ferrari with four race weekends to go.

Zak Brown: Red Bull ‘unbelievable’ but ‘definitely beatable’

Appearing on the ‘Nailing the Apex’ podcast, Zak Brown was asked by host Tim Hauraney whether or not Red Bull are a realistic target for McLaren in 2024 after a winter of development on a car building upon the improved concept of ’23.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, when asked if anyone can beat Red Bull.

“Whether anyone will, we’ll find out but, can? Sure.

“They’re human. They’ve just done an awesome, awesome job. We’re closing the gap. Max [Verstappen] is driving unbelievably.

“It’s an unbelievable team. But yeah, I think they’re definitely beatable. We just need to do a better job and that’s what we’re trying hard to do.”

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McLaren turnaround ‘biggest seen in F1’

From being one of the slowest teams on the grid at the start of the season, securing just 29 points from the first eight races up to Austria, the Woking squad has scored 213 points in the nine race weekends since.

The upgrade path began at the Austrian Grand Prix with immediate effect as Lando Norris raced to fourth place, the team only becoming more competitive on a regular basis since that day in July.

Having risen from the ashes of the lowest reaches of the Championship to be in with a shout at third place overall, Brown revealed that the team’s turnaround has exceeded even his own expectations.

“I was hopeful we would get back in the mix,” he explained.

“I didn’t think we would make the jump we did to be, I wouldn’t say on a regular basis because it’s not been on a regular basis but, kind of in front of everybody else being the second quickest team at most races the second half of the year.

“Our target coming into the year was to be fourth. I think we’ve got a shot at that. At the beginning of the year, we were the ninth-quickest team, so the fourth team didn’t seem achievable at that point.

“Here we are, 79 points behind third, which I think is a pretty tall order, but we’re in the game. We’re certainly going to give it all we have. It’s the biggest turnaround I’ve seen in F1 that I can remember.

“That’s just all credit to the men and women at McLaren, who have kept their heads down and worked hard. Andrea Stella has done a fantastic job leading this team and we’ve got to keep pushing because we see how quickly things change in the sport.”

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