LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - OCTOBER 08: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates wirth Second placed Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren and Third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Lusail International Circuit on October 08, 2023 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202310080528 // Usage for editorial use only // fittipaldi

Fittipaldi: When the flag drops, the bullsh!t stops

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - OCTOBER 08: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates wirth Second placed Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren and Third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Lusail International Circuit on October 08, 2023 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202310080528 // Usage for editorial use only // fittipaldi

Max Verstappen was full of praise for McLaren’s driver line-up, Red Bull’s triple Formula 1 World Champion said recently that Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are the best teammates on the grid, Emerson Fittipaldi agrees and explained why.

Indeed the Red Bull driver is the only ‘thing’ between the McLaren lads and the top step of the podium in a Grand Prix, is Verstappen himself. But Piastri did the unthinkable, when he beat Verstappen and all his rivals, including teammate Norris, to win the Qatar Sprint Race.

The two-time Brazilian F1 World Champion, Fittipaldi told VegasInsider: “I think what Verstappen is saying is that they are two young talents who are extremely fast. To me, Piastri has been a surprise, doing as well as he is doing in his first year in F1. He’s adapted himself very well to the car, to the team. I think he’s doing an amazing job.”

“Lando Norris, we know his qualities and talent. That’s already been proven. And I understand what Max is trying to say. This is the best balance of equal drivers in one team,” suggested Fittipaldi.

F1 is a unique sport in that the first order of business for teammates is to beat one another, and the bigger the gap the merrier, and is the paramount objective of the two guys who share the same garage. Attrition, tantrums, even hate etc. come with most packages, especially when the teammates have cars capable of winning races regularly. Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg at Mercedes springs to mind.

“In one way, it helps to be so competitive,” reckoned Fittipaldi. “I’m sure, the information that Piastri gets driving the McLaren to the limit and Norris, both working together. The engineers exchange information. All this, for sure, will improve McLaren’s performance. And I think that’s what the comment from Verstappen is all about.”

Emmo: McLaren’s pairing of Norris and Piastri is very good they will be fast at COTA

lando norris oscar piastri-001 f1 cake

To make teammates work together, Fittipaldi recalled the days of Lotus run by Colin Chapman: “I remember when I was with Ronnie Peterson, we had a completely transparent setup and we talked to each other, to Colin (Chapman), with the team.

“And I think that makes a big difference when there is collaboration between the drivers. That helps a lot,” recalled Fittipaldi, with reference to the late Peterson, F1’s original SuperSwede.

He continued: “The American expression ‘when the flag drops, the bullshit stops’ is real, and the teammates are racing each other but when they go back to the paddock, to the pits, and pass as much information as they can, that will help them improve each other.

“I think McLaren’s pairing is a very good combination. I’m sure they’ll have hard times on the track, trying to overtake each other,” added Emmo.

F1 is in the Americas now for the best part of a month. Starting with this weekend’s United Satyets Grand Prix, followed by the Mexican GP and Fittipaldi’s own Brazilian GP, and finally a return to Las Vegas for their first Grand Prix since 1982. The first time the sport raced in Sin City was in 1981. The return is the third race in the desert city.

Emmo: Verstappen still has the big advantage

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes and Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes going into the first corner at the start of the race during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 24, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202309240062 // Usage for editorial use only //

Looking ahead to the Sprint Race weekend in Austin, Texas, former McLaren driver, Fittipaldi said: “COTA is a very difficult track to get the maximum out of the car because you have many different types of corners. Some very difficult sections to follow up on.

“If you missed the first one, you’re going to miss the other ones. A very long straight with very hard braking. In my opinion, it is very difficult to set up the car properly and optimize it for the track. And that goes the same for driving.

“It’s a challenging track to drive. It’s a demanding track. I can see this year, the McLarens should be very fast there. I think they’re coming to a point where they can be the Red Bull’s biggest challengers. Verstappen still has the big advantage.”

Fittipaldi enjoyed great success in the USA, winning the Indy 500 twice but also, his first F1 victory was at the country’s 1970 Grand Prix at Watkins Glen: “The US Grand Prix is amazing. A lot of spectators, a lot of camping, a lot of families attending the event.

“In my opinion, it is one of the best grands prix in the world because the people going there, it’s a big event. It’s not just a motor race. The event brings people together. The layout of the track is fantastic for spectators because they have this bank, grass where people stay. It’s a great track for spectators with great access and organization.

“In a way, it reminds me of Watkins Glen but 50 years later. Much more modern. The name is perfect. The US Grand Prix. To me, it’s one of the best grands prix ever,” added the F1 legend.

emerson fittipaldi lotus colin chapman united states gp 1inner 1970 USGP