Ralf Schumacher picks surprise ‘the one’ who could challenge Max Verstappen

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen laughs at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen laughs.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher believes Lando Norris could be “the one” to take the fight to Max Verstappen in F1 2024.

Verstappen takes a huge amount of momentum into his F1 2024 title defence, having obliterated the competition last time out with 19 wins from 22 grands prix to blitz his way to three-time World Champion status.

Both Verstappen and his Red Bull team, who won all but one race in a record-breaking 2023, expect the competition to close in for F1 2024 with the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes hoping for a better season.

Lando Norris to take the fight to Max Verstappen?

One team that has caught Verstappen’s eye is McLaren, who emerged as Red Bull’s most consistent threat in the second half of last year after a muted start to the campaign.

The MCL60 began as one of the slowest cars but claimed nine podiums by the end of 2023 as huge performance gains were found, Norris scoring seven of those to team-mate Oscar Piastri’s two, while Piastri held off Verstappen to take the sprint win in Qatar.

Schumacher highlighted qualifying as an area of Norris’ game that must improve – the Brit having described one-lap performance as his “kryptonite” at one stage last season – with it clear by now how hard Verstappen is to stop if he gets out front in the lead.

Nonetheless, when Schumacher looks over the potential F1 2024 threats to Verstappen, Norris is “the one” who he feels could emerge from the pack.

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Asked while appearing on the Formula For Success podcast whether anyone can challenge Verstappen in the upcoming season, Schumacher replied: “As we know, it all depends on the car.

“I think Mercedes, if they’re finally back. They still have to prove [they are] because you know how difficult it is and they looked very up and down on performance [in 2023]. So let’s cross fingers that they do.

“McLaren could be possible. I have to say I’m a big fan of Oscar. The only thing is he seems still to be a bit weak in racing [conditions]. I think his qualifying performance is amazing, he never makes a mistake and he’s always there. So that’s great.

“And Lando is an amazing racer, but maybe sometimes he wants a bit too much in qualifying. And he could be the one I think to challenge Max if the car [is good enough].”

Norris has set his sights on victory with McLaren in F1 2024, having now tied Nick Heidfeld’s record for most podiums without a win with 13.

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