Norris can beat Verstappen, but battles will 'end in tears' - Brown


McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown is convinced that Lando Norris can beat reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen in a straight fight but fears that many of the pair’s battles “would end in tears”.

Last year, Verstappen comfortably held the upper end against his rivals, thanks to Red Bull’s ultra-dominant RB19 machine which suffered but a single defeat in 2023.

This season, while the Milton Keynes-based outfit’s 2024 design remains the class of the field, McLaren’s development efforts have drawn team papaya closer to Red Bull.

In Miami, a well-timed Safety Car played straight into the hands of Norris, but once ahead, the Briton decisively put himself out of reach of Verstappen to take his maiden career-win in Formula 1.

Asked at last weekend’s Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, where Brown was racing his 1980 ex-Alan Jones Williams FW07B, about Norris’ chances of prevailing in a straight fight against Verstappen, the McLaren boss said that his driver’s talent and speed is certainly there, although he cautioned that such close competition could come at a high price for both drivers.

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"I do think Lando can beat Max in a straight fight," Brown said in an interview with

"I think it would be an awesome fight, I think many races would end in tears – for one or the other, or both. But I think as far as raw talent can be, I've not seen someone faster than Lando.

"I'm sure Max is just as fast, I'm sure some people will disagree and ultimately, we'll never know until you see them in the same car.

"But, from everything I can see of Lando, I don't see a faster racing driver out there.

"What's exciting is Oscar [Piastri] can match him. As he gets more experience I think he'll match him more often."

After Norris broke his duck in Miami, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella suggested that the Briton will now race with a significant weight off his shoulders.

Brown agreed, insisting the-milestone triumph will unlock a new level for Norris.

"For sure," he said. "There's something about when drivers get their first win.

"I remember from when I got my first win, now you know you've done it, [the first win] just relaxes drivers and they don't have to try as hard. In anything, you can try too hard and that kind of works against you."

Earlier this year, Norris committed to a new contract with McLaren that will see the 24-year-old remain with the team until the end of 2027, at least.

Brown emphasized the importance of loyalty in a driver’s career but also underscored how McLaren had secured its driver’s extended allegiance and faith.

"People need to be loyal to their careers, but loyalty will only take you so far," the American explained.

"But I think he saw the turnaround we made last year, with his belief in Andrea Stella, his belief in the entire team – it's family, he loves the McLaren brand.

"But, most importantly, I think he has confidence we're going to give him a race-winning car and last weekend, we did. That has only raised his confidence even further."

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