McLaren boss hails ‘impressive’ rival who continuously resets the standard

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen races McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen races McLaren's Oscar Piastri.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown was full of praise for the dominant Max Verstappen, who he feels finds another gear each time McLaren think they are closing in.

While Verstappen and his Red Bull team have been the talk of the town so far in F1 2023, the team boasting a perfect record of 12 wins from 12, 10 of those claimed by Verstappen, McLaren have also attracted a great deal of attention for their surge up the order.

Starting out battling to break into the points, McLaren’s upgrade programme for the MCL60, which started back in Austria, has fired the team into the conversation for ‘best of the rest’ behind the all-conquering Red Bull squad.

McLaren boss talks up Max Verstappen form

Back-to-back P2 finishes for Lando Norris at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, plus a P2 finish in the Spa sprint for Oscar Piastri, is as good as it has got for McLaren in their resurgence so far, with Verstappen on a run of eight grand prix wins in a row and simply untouchable right now.

Brown then says there is not much McLaren can do other than respect the sheer might of the driver they aspire to challenge.

“Red Bull is an incredible team,” Brown told Laola1. “We try to get close to Max, but every time you think you’re close, he pulls away.

“It’s quite impressive to watch him.” recommends

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Nonetheless, Brown had plenty of praise to dish out for his own team as well, hailing the personnel behind their stark upturn in form, which is now allowing Norris and Piastri to deliver the improved results.

“The reason for the recent upturn is primarily the people in the factory, from design to production, the improvement in reliability, and at the track and at home the strategists,” said Brown. “There’s a lot of things playing together excellently.

“Our aerodynamics upgrades have been impressive. I take my hat off to that.

“The drivers are now showing their potential. They did a very good job before, but now they can be even more convincing in the improved car. The first laps in Silverstone were a highlight, my pulse went up again rapidly. It’s a shame Oscar didn’t make the podium.”

McLaren warn rivals they are now “back in the game”

While McLaren were staring at a bottom-half finish in the Constructors’ standings based on the early rounds of F1 2023, now P5 looks set to be their lowest possible finishing position, with an outside chance of challenging Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes ahead with 10 rounds still to go.

Brown has his sights set on McLaren establishing themselves as the second-fastest team in the remainder of the campaign, declaring that the Woking outfit are no fluke, they are back to fight for the top positions which they were so accustomed to in times gone by.

“To be second fastest team, best of the rest, at the end of the season would be very satisfying,” said Brown. “There’s still a long way to go, but we’re definitely back in the game.”

McLaren have a deficit of 88 points to make up on Ferrari who currently occupy P4 in the Constructors’ standings.

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