McLaren make admission about Max Verstappen being better than Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri

McLaren have claimed five podiums in the last seven races, four courtesy of British racer Lando Norris.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has admitted that the upcoming return of the Qatar Grand Prix should be somewhere where the side are “competitive”, although he notes that Red Bull are “still a step too far” ahead of the improving side.

The Woking-based team’s recovery this season has been one of the biggest talking points of the year, given that they started 2023 almost as a backmarker.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri endured a miserable start to the campaign, with the Austrian Grand Prix having been the team’s real turning point.

McLaren introduced a huge upgrades package in Austria which saw the side take inspiration from Red Bull, something which has worked massively in their favour.

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Since then, McLaren have claimed five podiums, four courtesy of Norris and one thanks to Piastri.

They claimed a famous double podium last weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix, where Norris finished second with Piastri in third.

It was a memorable moment for the rookie, given that it was his maiden F1 rostrum.

Based on their current rise towards the frontrunners, it’s expected that McLaren will overtake Aston Martin and claim fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, something they would’ve never anticipated based on how 2023 started.

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What McLaren want more than anything else though, is a victory, with Stella being “realistic” and admitting that things will need to fall in their favour to defeat Max Verstappen.

“Still a step too far,” said Stella, when asked how far behind Red Bull they are.

“But in fairness, at the moment, it looks [as if] Max is one step too far.

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“There’s a variability of tracks left in the season, but none of these tracks has the Singapore characteristics.

“While there could be some tracks in which we could be competitive – I think Qatar should be a decent track for us – I’m afraid that the characteristics we like, they are also the characteristics where Red Bull will be just outstanding.

“So we’ll have to be realistic that we’ll need some situations to happen to be able to make the final step.”