McLaren team principal Andrea Stella believes Max Verstappen wouldn’t be able to beat Red Bull if he were in Oscar Piastri’s or Lando Norris’ car, with it being described as “impossible”.
The Woking-based team improved significantly last season courtesy of a huge upgrades package at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix, which turned the side into podium contenders having been backmarkers prior to the event.
Norris ended up being Verstappen’s biggest threat for the vast majority of the second half of 2023, with the British driver having picked up seven podiums in the space of 11 races.
Six of his seven podiums came as a result of finishing second, with all but one of his P2 finishes having come behind Verstappen.
Verstappen won 19 times in 2023 thanks to the staggering RB19, which the Dutchman performed majestically in all year.
Some did claim last year that Verstappen’s dominance was more to do with the car than his input, something which Stella perhaps believes in slightly.
The McLaren boss thinks Verstappen wouldn’t be able to beat the RB19 if he were driving the British outfit’s MCL60, because of how strong Red Bull’s 2023 challenger was in the second half of all the races.
Verstappen had a tendency to manage his lead out front with ease in the second half of most races last season, with him having often built a big gap quickly before managing it and his tyres.
He just always performed at an “extremely high level”, although Stella points out that he “can only do what the car allows him to do”.
”Even an excellent driver like Verstappen can only do what the car allows him to do,” Stella told Auto Motor und Sport.
“With our car, it is impossible, with any driver in the car, to be as fast as Red Bull in the second part of stints (in the race).”
“Where Verstappen makes the difference is that he always performs at an extremely high level, even in the most difficult conditions.”
Verstappen racing for another team is something many are keen to see, to discover just how good the 26-year-old really is.
However, given that he’s hinted that he could retire at the end of 2028 – his contract expires – it’s likely the Dutchman won’t ever race for a time outside the Red Bull family.