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Norris emerging as Verstappen's main rival in 2024

Norris emerging as Verstappen's main rival in 2024
© Reuters
In 2024, McLaren appears to be mounting the most serious threat to Red Bull's reign as the dominant force in Formula 1, potentially overshadowing more recent powerhouses like Ferrari and Mercedes.

In 2024, McLaren appears to be mounting the most serious threat to Red Bull's reign as the dominant force in Formula 1, potentially overshadowing more recent powerhouses like Ferrari and Mercedes.

The era of Red Bull's uninterrupted supremacy seems to be concluding, with McLaren CEO Zak Brown also intent on applying pressure off the track.

"There's still a pretty toxic environment there," he commented during a Bloomberg podcast when queried about the current champions, "And I think there's more to come."

Brown has been praised for his role in reviving McLaren, bolstering it with stable leadership and substantial sponsorship deals.

"The former team boss Andreas Seidl set the course for a promising future with state support from Bahrain, the sponsorship money that Zak Brown brought in and the (Lando) Norris-(Oscar) Piastri driver pairing," said former McLaren star Gerhard Berger to Bild am Sonntag.

Brown, renowned for his expertise in marketing and sponsor relations, is forecasting financial difficulties for Red Bull.

"Sponsors look at who they want to be associated with and what they stand for," he observed, "So that is a difficult situation for them."

He also suggested that after losing Adrian Newey, Red Bull may be facing the loss of Max Verstappen next, in a team situation which he describes as a "very unstable environment."

Berger, closely aligned with Red Bull's Austrian leadership, attributes the current challenges to the death of founder Dietrich Mateschitz in late 2022, which also derailed a potential major F1 collaboration with Porsche.

"That would have been a great fit in terms of marketing and would probably have happened if the always far-sighted Didi Mateschitz had not already been so ill at the time of the failure," he remarked.

"With Didi, there were lightning-fast decisions, short paths and a problem-free budget."

Former Red Bull racer Robert Doornbos sees McLaren, particularly with Lando Norris at the forefront, as the most formidable competitor to Red Bull in 2024.

"At this rate, it is Lando Norris who will make it the most difficult for Max," he told Ziggo Sport, "because that McLaren is performing well on every type of track."

"I think Barcelona and Silverstone will be the real tests. Red Bull is going to Spain with a major upgrade package, so on that type of track they should be right there again."

"But if McLaren can keep up, we'll see a real championship."

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