Red Bull’s key 2024 challenger emerges

Max Verstappen will be targeting a fourth consecutive Formula 1 world championship with Red Bull in 2024.

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, has joined Max Verstappen in lauding McLaren as their most consistent rival, with Norris and Piastri displaying remarkable performance.

In recent rounds, McLaren has outscored Red Bull, leading to recognition from within the Red Bull camp.

Over the last three race weekends, McLaren has amassed an impressive 104 points, eclipsing Red Bull’s 73 points. 

The Milton Keynes-based team faced difficulties due to Sergio Perez’s struggles in those rounds. 

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Perez finished a disappointing eighth in the Singapore Grand Prix after starting in 13th place. He also had on-track incidents with Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon.

Verstappen’s qualifying in 11th place further highlighted Red Bull’s challenges, but he managed to secure fifth place in the race. 

In contrast, Lando Norris secured back-to-back second-place finishes, further cementing McLaren’s resurgence in the sport.

The Japanese Grand Prix witnessed Norris taking another podium, finishing ahead of Verstappen while Perez faced retirement twice during the race, primarily due to contact with Kevin Magnussen, which resulted in a penalty. 

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Unfortunately, Perez’s performance did not improve at the Qatar Grand Prix, where he finished in 10th place at Lusail.

McLaren’s revival continued at the Qatar Grand Prix, with both Norris and Piastri joining Verstappen on the podium. 

Piastri, in particular, displayed outstanding performance by holding off Norris to secure second place. 

Furthermore, Piastri’s victory in the Sprint at Lusail marked his first win of any kind as a Formula 1 driver.

Perez, on the other hand, faced further challenges, retiring from the Sprint after being involved in a three-wide crash with Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg. 

His difficulties were compounded by qualifying in eighth and 13th place for the Qatar Grand Prix. Track limit infringements resulted in three five-second penalties during the race.

Verstappen expressed his views on McLaren’s recent form, stating, “I do think that, as a team, they are probably the most consistent compared to the others behind us.” 

He also commended McLaren’s driver lineup, believing it to be the best behind Red Bull’s 2023 Constructors’ champions.

Christian Horner echoed Verstappen’s sentiments, acknowledging McLaren’s consistency as a prominent rival. 

Horner noted that the competition had shifted in recent races, with McLaren emerging as the most consistent challenger. 

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He also praised the McLaren drivers, especially Oscar Piastri, for their strong performances.

Horner summed up the situation, stating, “They’re doing a good job, and the drivers are driving well. Particularly Oscar, in his rookie season, is doing a very strong job.” 

The Red Bull team principal anticipates an intriguing end to the current season and is eager to see how the competition evolves into the next year.