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Verstappen: McLaren's Norris and Piastri "best driver line-up" among F1 rivals

Max Verstappen believes McLaren's Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri form the best driver line-up among Red Bull's Formula 1 competitors.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 2nd position, Gianpiero Lambiase, Race Engineer, Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, on the podium

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

At last weekend's Qatar Grand Prix Piastri and Norris scored McLaren's second consecutive double podium of the season, finishing just five seconds down the road from Verstappen.

According to the new triple world champion, McLaren has not only announced itself as the most consistent threat to Red Bull's hegemony, but it also has the strongest driver pairing among the chasing pack.

"I do think that as a team they are probably the most consistent, compared to the others behind us," Verstappen said.

"I do think they have the best driver line-up out of all of them, so they are operating really well.

"It's going to be interesting to the end of the year, but also I think the start of next year to see where everyone is at."

Verstappen's 14th win of the campaign of the season at Losail wasn't nearly as dominant as most of his other victories so far.

Norris and Mercedes' George Russell, who finished fourth after contact with team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the start shuffled him to the back, both felt they had the pace to at least threaten the Dutchman for victory.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 2nd position,rea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, with the trophies

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 2nd position,rea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, with the trophies

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Due to the mandated 18-lap stints Red Bull wasn't fully able to exploit its superior tyre management, but while Verstappen felt he could have raised his game if challenged, he also acknowledged that McLaren is getting ever closer on outright pace.

"I do think we had a bit more pace in hand if we really needed it but nevertheless, I don't want to take anything away from McLaren," he added.

"They've been doing a great job and from us, we see that they are getting closer and closer, so we have to try and maintain a bit of a gap.

"McLaren is making great steps forward throughout the whole year. From our side, we’ll try to improve a little bit this year, but of course mainly for next year."

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McLaren's latest string of podiums has brought it to within 11 points of fourth-placed Aston Martin, which has only taken 15 points across the past four grand prix weekends as rival outfits have caught up with it after its blistering start.

With five races left to run the Woking squad also retains an outside chance of catching Ferrari for third, which now sits 79 points clear.

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