McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has admitted that Red Bull are currently “still a step too far” ahead, following a threat made by Lando Norris.
Following Norris’ fourth P2 finish in the last seven races at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend, he warned Red Bull that McLaren were out to get them, a warning Stella has backtracked on.
McLaren secured a double podium finish in Suzuka as rookie Oscar Piastri finished in third, with the Woking-based team now being just 49 points behind fourth-placed Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship.
Given McLaren’s brilliant rise towards the front, and Aston Martin’s downfall, it’s widely expected that the Silverstone-based team will lose P4 in the standings to McLaren.
The side’s turnaround has been mesmeric, considering that they were almost backmarkers for some of the opening half of this season.
McLaren’s huge upgrades package at the Austrian Grand Prix has been the turnaround point of their season, with the side now having a development path for the future.
In just one upgrades package, McLaren have done what Mercedes have failed to do for just over 18 months, reduce Red Bull’s advantage.
Whilst Red Bull do remain comfortably out in front, McLaren are viewed by many as the team most likely to topple them.
What McLaren would really love before the end of 2023 is a victory, with Carlos Sainz being the only non-Red Bull driver to have won a race this season.
Stella is hopeful that the MCL60 will be “competitive” at some of the remaining races; however, he’s expecting Red Bull to be “outstanding”, meaning that McLaren have to remain “realistic” with their expectations.
“[They are] still a step too far,” Stella told media, including RacingNews365.com.
“But in fairness, at the moment it looks like Max is a step too far.
“There’s a variability of tracks left this season but none of these tracks have the Singapore characteristics.
“So while there are some tracks where we could be competitive – I think Qatar should be a decent track for us – I am afraid the characteristics we like are also the characteristics where Red Bull will be just outstanding.
“We will have to be realistic that we need some situations to happen to be able to make the final step.”