Max Verstappen has heaped praise on McLaren ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. McLaren have enjoyed a successful run of form in recent months, with Lando Norris finishing on the podium at the Singapore Grand Prix.
McLaren ace Norris raced away from the challenging pack. Both the Briton and race winner Carlos Sainz held off competition from Lewis Hamilton to finish second and first, respectively.
Verstappen’s incredible run of 10 Grand Prix victories was ended with an underwhelming race in Singapore. However, the Dutchman does not believe a fifth-place finish last weekend will affect his drive in Japan.
The reigning champion has urged Red Bull to ‘analyse everything’ that happened in Singapore to ensure another below-par performance does not happen again. But he is not concerned that the Singapore Grand Prix display will ‘upset’ his weekend in Japan.
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Piling praise on McLaren, Verstappen said: “What McLaren have done this year is quite impressive, from where they started to where they are now, so I expect them to be strong – but I expect to be ahead.”
He added of Red Bull’s chances in Japan: “It’s important that we analyse everything, but there’s no real rush. Singapore is so different to here in terms of how you set up the car, so I’m not worried that a weekend like that will upset our weekend here. [This track] felt nice on the simulator, so that is good.”
Norris secured his third podium finish of the season in Singapore. McLaren partner Oscar Piastri finished seventh on a positive weekend for the team.
However, Norris has managed expectations ahead of the race in Japan. He claimed that McLaren only have the fourth-best car.
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The 23-year-old insists that Red Bull will dominate this weekend and that McLaren’s vehicle is behind the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.
He said: “I think Red Bull will be dominant this weekend, but comparing us to Ferrari, Mercedes – Mercedes have been very, very consistent, they have been the second best car this season, then Ferrari, then us.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull will hope that a poor weekend for Verstappen and Sergio Perez was just a blip. Singapore was the first time in 2023 that neither driver had won a race.
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