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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Second placed Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Race winner Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrate in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 05, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202405060029 // Usage for editorial use only //

Verstappen: After their last few races McLaren are really in the mix

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Second placed Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Race winner Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrate in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 05, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202405060029 // Usage for editorial use only //

Formula 1 world championship leader Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is aware Lando Norris is a growing 2024 title threat after the McLaren driver’s run of a win and two-second places from the last three races.

Verstappen has won five out of seven so far this season, with a record run of seven pole positions, but the triple world champion accepted ahead of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix that Norris was closing the gap.

Asked about Norris’s recently reported comments about not ruling out becoming a title contender with McLaren’s current form, Verstappen said: “Everyone should think like that.”

“After their last few races, they are really in the mix. Of course, they are quite a few points down at the moment but if they suddenly start winning, that can turn around quite quickly,” Verstappen told reporters on Thursday at Monaco.

Former champions McLaren have made impressive gains since Austria in July last year, with Norris taking six second places in the rest of the season, and have continued to make stellar progress.

Norris took his first F1 win in Miami this month after finishing second in Shanghai. He was also second at Italy’s Imola circuit last weekend and third in Australia in March. The Briton has been on the podium in four of the last five races not finished lower than eighth.

With Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, he is one of only two drivers apart from Verstappen and team mate Sergio Perez to have won since 2022.

Norris: We have not thought about the F1 title at all over the past four weeks

lando norris winner miami F1 Norris: We have not thought about the F1 title at all over the past four weeks

Fourth overall in the standings ahead of Round 8 in Monaco, Norris is still a hefty 60 points behind Verstappen with 17 rounds remaining. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is currently the champion’s closest rival, 48 points adrift.

Verstappen won 19 of 22 races last year in the most dominant season on record but Ferrari and McLaren have both won one each this campaign.

Meanwhile, speaking separately about his Championship chances, Norris told reporters: “We have not thought about it at all over the last four weeks. You concentrate on getting a good result and things just play out for themselves. We have definitely put ourselves in there,” he added.

“We lost a lot (of points) over the first couple of weekends, so that’s hurt us, but we are about a third of the way through, so there are plenty of opportunities for us. We know we still have some things coming in the future, and if things turn around then we can easily start to come back at some of the teams.

“We’re probably the team, along with Ferrari at least, where we have two cars up there performing at every single session and every single race in qualifying,” added Norris, who in four visits to Monte Carlo has a P3 as his best result, scored in 2021. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)

Big Question: Is Lando Norris really a 2024 F1 World Championship contender?