McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella believes Max Verstappen would not have become a Formula 1 World Champion in a McLaren.
With 19 wins to his name out of 22 Grands Prix in 2023, Verstappen drove one of the most dominant F1 seasons ever seen behind the wheel of the Red Bull RB19.
There is a lot of talk over whether Verstappen would be able to pull off a similar result in another car on the grid, given that he has only ever driven for two teams in his career under the Red Bull umbrella.
Stella believes it would have been a tougher challenge to repeat such a feat in the MCL60, given where the team started the season last year.
"Even an excellent driver like Verstappen can only do what the material allows him to do. The combination of Verstappen and Red Bull is faster than we are at the moment. We have to beat them," Stella told Auto, Motor, and Sport.
"Red Bull is good enough to make that performance possible. With our car, it is impossible, with any driver in the car, to be as fast as Red Bull in the second part of stints (in the race)."
Viewed by others:
Stella: Verstappen performs at an 'extremely high' level
Stella believes that Verstappen's ability to consistently perform at a "high level" enables him to exploit tough conditions when luck seems to go against him.
"You have to separate the car from the driver," explained Stella.
"Where Verstappen makes the difference is that he always performs at an extremely high level, even in the most difficult conditions.
"In the rain at Zandvoort or when conditions change during Q3 in Brazil. Verstappen shows what that Red Bull can do if you handle it perfectly."