Christian Horner warns of Norris danger to Verstappen after Spanish GP battle

The Red Bull boss has been left in no doubt about Norris' ability after another intriguing battle with Verstappen at the Spanish GP

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner warned that Lando Norris and McLaren are their strongest competitors following a nail-biting finish at the Formula 1 2024 Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Norris started on pole after narrowly beating Max Verstappen in qualifying by 0.02 of a second. But the Red Bull star drove a flawless race and executed the team’s pit strategy to perfection to see off a late challenge from the Briton, claiming his seventh race victory of the 2024 season.

The 24-year-old conceded he should have won the race but a poor start off the line cost him, having finished just over two seconds behind Verstappen as they crossed the line. And while Horner was keen to point out that Red Bull were able to beat them in Barcelona, he identified Norris as their most feared rival in the McLaren.

“I think it’s tight. It is small margins. Max and Lando were 18 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. In the end we got the job done and bagged maximum points,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the race.

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris of McLaren after qualifying for the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Lando Norris battled for the Spanish GP win | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“Since Miami, Lando has probably been the standout competitor and we are going to have to be at the top of our game to win. It’s tight – but we keep winning. McLaren are doing a great job, Ferrari aren’t far behind, Mercedes are improving, but we are keeping our noses in front.”

Horner praises Verstappen

Red Bull brought upgrades to Barcelona which didn’t appear to give them a clear pace advantage over McLaren, with Verstappen needing to maximise his tyre management and pace in the crucial moments after choosing to go on a two-stop strategy.

Norris opted for a more aggressive three-stop race plan and lost out at the end as Verstappen held his nerve on worn soft tyres, and the 26-year-old earned the highest compliment from Horner after securing his 61st career victory.

“Max drove a brilliant race and strategically we got it just right. We went for an optimum race time and it paid off,” Horner added.

“We knew McLaren would come back with the overlap on the tyre but we had just enough in hand. The first lap was crucial and the pass on George [Russell] was even more important.

“He [Verstappen] is so decisive, he just doesn’t mess about. I think that is one of his key qualities – you know if he is there, he is going to go for it. The other drivers know that.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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