Zak Brown believes McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris can overcome Red Bull’s Max Verstappen “in a straight fight”, but fears in those confrontations “many races would end in tears”.

Norris led home Verstappen in F1's most recent race in Miami – the Briton profiting from a mid-race safety car just as he appeared to be developing into a victory threat and with Verstappen having damaged his Red Bull.

The result has raised expectations of further contests between the pair now McLaren has made a stride forward with its enhanced 2024 car, as occurred for much of the second half of the 2023 campaign – albeit with Verstappen typically experiencing a car performance advantage.

McLaren manager Brown was asked for his views on the outcome of a potentially closer Norris and Verstappen duel at last weekend's Monaco Historique Grand Prix event.

Brown was racing his 1980 Alan Jones-driving Williams FW07B, while McLaren paraded several cars driven by the legendary Ayrton Senna on the 30th anniversary of his death at Imola in 1994.

Norris tipped as Verstappen's biggest threat | RacingNews365

"I do think Lando can beat Max in a straight fight," Brown said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com.

"I believe it would be an amazing contest, I imagine many races would end in weeping – for one or the other, or both.

"But I suppose as far as natural aptitude can be, I've not seen someone quicker than Lando.

"I'm confident Max is just as swift, I'm sure some people will disagree and ultimately, we'll never know until you see them in the same vehicle.

"But, from everything I can see of Lando, I don't see a quicker racing driver out there.

"What's exciting is Oscar [Piastri] can match him. As he gets more experience I think he'll match him more often."

Read Also: F1 Publishes Sustainability Gains Amid 2030

Brown also believes Norris will now "take yet another step forwards" in terms of his personal results after clinching his first F1 victory in his 110 GP appearances, following a succession of near-misses back in 2021.

"For sure," said Brown. "There's something about when drivers get their first victory.

"I recall from when I won my first victory, now you know you've done it [the first win] just relieves drivers and they don't have to strive as hard. In anything, you can strive too hard and that kind of works against you."

Max Verstappen reveals he and Lando Norris 'talk about' whether they could  be future F1 team-mates | F1 News | Sky Sports

Norris's first F1 victory follows his decision early in 2024 to sign another contract extension with McLaren.

This binds him to the team for almost a decade, from the commencement of his F1 tenure until the contract ends in 2027.

Brown said Norris was "very loyal" but had been persuaded to re-sign by McLaren's efforts to develop its initially disappointing 2023 F1 car into what ended up being a sprint race winner with Piastri, plus the work of then first-year team principal Andrea Stella.

"People need to be loyal to their careers, but loyalty will only take you so far," said Brown.

"But I believe he saw the turnaround we made last year, with his belief in Andrea Stella, his belief in the complete squad – it's family, he adores the McLaren brand.

"But, most importantly, I think he has confidence we're going to give him a race-winning car and last weekend, we did. That has only raised his confidence even further."