Bullish Lando Norris and McLaren target Red Bull and expect to compete with F1 champions

Many expect McLaren to be Red Bull's main challengers in the 2024 Formula 1 season

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Lando Norris believes Red Bull are beatable in 2024 while team principal Andrea Stella backed McLaren to especially challenge them at the end of the Formula 1 season, while admitting his team could be on the back foot early on.

Aston Martin‘s technical director – and former head of aerodynamics at Milton Keynes – Dan Fallows raised eyebrows at the launch of the AMR24 by stating he believes Red Bull are ‘absolutely beatable’ in 2024, following their cost cap penalty.

And after their 2024 car hit the track for the first time at Silverstone, Norris and Stella were asked whether they believe they can take the fight to the reigning double drivers and constructors’ champions given McLaren finished 558 points behind in 2023.

“If you were to say ‘are they beatable?’, I’m going to have to say yes,” Norris told select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com at McLaren‘s 2024 launch.

“I think we want to want to believe to say yes, because we were very close at times [in 2023] and at certain times we did beat them.

McLaren launch MCL38 | McLaren F1 Team

“So the question is, can we beat them over a season because I think that’s going to be the challenging thing and I think that’s going to be very difficult to do with how well they’re performing.”

While Red Bull were well ahead in the constructors’ standings over the whole 2023 season, the picture looks slightly better for McLaren after their revolutionary upgrade landed on both cars from the British Grand Prix.

Red Bull only outscored McLaren 483-273 from Silverstone onwards while the Woking outfit were actually best of the rest in that period, and are hoping to take that momentum into 2024.

They beat a Red Bull driver 13 times over the course of the season but with Adrian Newey‘s design squad halting major development on the RB19 before even the summer break, there’s plenty of fear up and down the grid that they’ll enter 2024 another step ahead.

Oscar Piastri added: “I think we have to be wary, it’s not just Red Bull that we’re fighting. And I think there’ll be other top teams that are making progress as well.”

(left to right) Lando Norris, McLaren CEO Zak Brown, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Team Principal Andrea Stella after Japanese GP | McLaren F1 Team

McLaren will get closer to Red Bull

McLaren will hope for a better start to 2024 than the 2023 Bahrain GP, where they had one of the worst races by a team in recent F1 history.

After Norris somehow dragged the MCL60 to 11th in qualifying, he was the only driver to finish two laps down having pitted six times to manage a hydraulics issues, while teammate Piastri became the first retirement of the F1 season 13 laps in with an electrical fault.

However, with several key developments not ready for the launch and only set to hit the car at testing or in the opening stages of the season, their first few races might not be a true indicator of McLaren‘s 2024 performance.

But there’s no denying their upward trajectory in the second half of the season as they netted nine podiums and a sprint race victory, and Stella was keen to stress that point.

McLaren launch MCL38 | McLaren F1 Team

“At the start of the season, my expectation is that Red Bull will keep enjoying some advantage, because they didn’t develop the car very much last year,” Stella said.

“And I would think it’s reasonable to expect that they will have accumulated, some knowledge and development last year that will be capitalised on to the 2024 car, that’s my expectation.

“Having said that. I think looking McLaren, if we keep the development rate that we had in 2023, that hopefully we will add onto the 2024 car, then I think we can be in a strong position.

“Whether that’s enough to challenge Red Bull and the other top teams that certainly will have made good improvements. We will find out but we think that this is a strong development rate.”

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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