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Verstappen says Norris' form is 'not a surprise' after McLaren's ‘quite incredible’ resurgence

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Race winner, Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

Max Verstappen says McLaren's turnaround this year from scrapping for points to scoring podiums is "quite incredible" – but insists Lando Norris's form in the updated MCL60 is “not a surprise” to him.

McLaren endured a tough start to the season, with Norris finishing at the back of the field at the opening two races in Bahrain and Jeddah. But once the team introduced their major upgrade package in Austria and Silverstone, results improved considerably.

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Norris sealed the first back-to-back podium finishes of his career, taking second place at both his home race at Silverstone and in Hungary. And Verstappen, who admitted he “felt sorry” for Norris at the start of the year, said he always knew what his rival was capable of.

Asked after the Hungarian GP to rate Norris’ season so far, Verstappen responded: “First of all, I think it's quite incredible to see where they were in Bahrain and where they are now, McLaren. But I think Lando has done extremely well.

“But this is also not a surprise to me. It's just good to see finally that when you have a competent car that you can do a good job and he's here in P2, twice. It doesn't need a number even.”

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on

Norris finished second at Silverstone and in Budapest behind Verstappen

Verstappen's Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez added: “I think from where they were in Bahrain – or not even in Bahrain [just] before Silverstone – the step that they made these last two races on very different tracks layouts, I think it's impressive. And I do expect to see Lando a lot more up here. They've done an incredible job."

READ MORE: Horner says 'that's pretty much it' for Red Bull upgrades as he reflects on unbeaten first half of 2023

Verstappen was also asked to rate Perez’s first half of the season. The Mexican won two of the first four races – as well as the Sprint in Baku – to start the year. But he suffered a dip in form which saw him miss out on Q3 five races in a row – from Monaco to Silverstone.

But a supportive Verstappen said: “I think as a team in general, to have won all the race so far has been good. We’re first and second in the championship so it's been good.

SPA, BELGIUM - JULY 30: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Verstappen backed Perez to learn from his tough moments after a strong start to the season for Red Bull

“It doesn't matter if it's perfect. It's never perfect but if it's really good, it's fine. We just need to keep on working. Sometimes you have a few tough moments where you make mistakes.

“You learn from them, you become a better driver and you move on. That's how it goes. Some things are also out of your control.”

READ MORE: Our writers look back on 2023 so far and predict what's to come in the second half of the season

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