Helmut Marko sides with Max Verstappen over Christian Horner on Miami pace theory

Norris had harried Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez during the opening stint, Norris going longer than those ahead and reaping the rewards when the Safety Car was deployed to cover a crash involving Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant.

Marko therefore is clear that this Safety Car intervention gave Norris a huge helping hand, since – as evidenced in Norris’ struggles to clear Perez – making the overtakes and then reeling Verstappen in would not have been easy without it.

“That’s right,” said Marko when it was put to him that Norris benefitted from the Safety Car.

“Norris would have found it difficult to close the gap behind Max, and overtaking in Miami is also very difficult.”

Miami represented a second defeat of F1 2024 for Verstappen, the driver who has dominated this ground effect era. However, he certainly took it well, applauding and giving Norris the thumbs up as he passed him on the cool-down lap, adding post race that he was “very happy to be beaten by Lando today”.

Such a response did not surprise Marko, as Verstappen and Norris have a “very friendly relationship”, though he does fear Norris becoming an “even more dangerous” threat on the track from now on, with his long wait for a first F1 victory finally over.

“Max has a very friendly relationship with Norris,” said Marko. “He often takes him with him on the aeroplane, and they always arrange to meet up for sim racing. Max seems to have something to learn from Norris when it comes to partying.

“But now it is to be feared that Lando will become even more dangerous for him on the track. Because the pressure is now off.”

All eyes are now on the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, to see whether Norris and McLaren can sustain their challenge to Red Bull.

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