Lando Norris, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2020

McLaren need to “make next step with the car” in fight for third

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is confident the team’s new nose design will pay off in the fight for third place in the constructors’ championship.

What they say

Seidl was asked about the increased pressure the team is under from Renault, who have made progress with their car in recent races:

Definitely we are not happy about that because we want to keep this fight for third alive as long as possible. And in the end, we need to make sure that we make the next step with the car.

The introduction of this new nose box is obviously a big change in terms of the academic concept of the car. And we also didn’t underestimate this challenge to get this to work at the track. Obviously a weekend like this one doesn’t help with the lack of running on Friday. But at the same time, that’s the challenge we are in.

We believe in this concept giving us more potential looking ahead and it’s important now as a team between the race team also and the team back home on the development side, that we make the right analysis and conclusions in order to see this potential, actually, also in terms of lap time on the track.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Max Verstappen’s challenge for second in the championship – despite having more race-ending car failures than Valtteri Bottas – deserves recognition, says @Robbie:

As a Verstappen fan of course I am most interested in seeing if he can end up second in the drivers’ championship. Even if he doesn’t he will be very close to doing so, and I think that is an incredible feat against the might of Mercedes.

What a great team Red Bull is, to be as close as they are without having the full factory works setting that Mercedes and Ferrari enjoy. Even if one were to consider the Red Bull-Honda pairing as full factory, it has been a short relationship, so no wonder Mercedes were never going to supply them with power units, such is their ability to make hay such as they do even in a hybrid formula that requires one to be a factory team for titles success.

And thank goodness. Better to have one team or driver at least nipping at Mercedes’ heals than having Mercedes and then everyone else fighting in the midfield way way back.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 14 comments on “McLaren need to “make next step with the car” in fight for third”

    1. I understand Seidl has to keep the stakeholders positive, but in all honesty: McLaren seems lost. They have only been going backwards in terms of competitive pace.

      1. I disagree, under Seidl’s direction McLaren have been reborn, of late I would say they have perhaps not made as large leaps as Renault have but it does not mean McLaren has lost pace.

        1. No actually competitively they have only gone backwards with seidl. Seidl does not make the car or drive it, the team is operating fine and seems set for a better future. As seidl put it, 2020 is where is work is going to be judged.
          The new even more merc-ish nose is a logical step they needed to take, unfortunately for them renault started copying merc as well.
          Thankfully Mclaren will be running merc engines and they will field a top driver for 2021. They are probably losing .2 or .3 of potential pace on sainz every single lap.

      2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        17th October 2020, 7:32

        They may be in a bit of a conundrum here. Whether to develop this year’s car or shift focus to next year’s car when they have a Merc engine and would have to change the rear end significantly. Add to that the 2022 regulations. The plethora of changes suddenly heading towards them could be the reason why they appear to have lost pace as a result.

        Or maybe it was always the 5th fastest car, and Renault RP lost the plot early on and are slowly clawing back.

        1. @asleepatthewheel it is probably a combination of multiple factors, rather than being just a single aspect.

          Firstly, as you note, the need to modify the car to accommodate the Mercedes power unit for 2021 does complicate their development work relative to Renault and Racing Point – Mclaren have to use some of their development tokens which the teams have for 2020 and 2021 on that switch, so McLaren will be losing some of their research opportunities to those teams around this time, along with the inevitable questions over how much to dedicate to their current, 2021 and 2022 design teams.

          There might also be those wondering if some of the problems that the wider McLaren Group have had might have had a knock on impact on the racing team as well – even if not necessarily receiving direct funding from the wider group, the problems for the group might well have had a potential negative impact on advertising potential and some of those wider issues might have had some operational effects on the team.

          I would also agree that there probably was an element of both Renault and Racing Point failing to hit their maximum potential earlier in the season. Although McLaren did not have a Formula 1 car to hand and instead made do with a Formula 3 car, they were one team that did have live rehearsals on their covid-19 protocols before the season started – that might have given them an operational edge over their rivals earlier on, but that would wane over time as Racing Point and Renault gained more operational experience.

          We have also had a number of recent circuits that have perhaps favoured Renault, and to a lesser extent Racing Point, in terms of handling characteristics. At circuits like Spa and Mugello, the downforce requirements tended towards low to medium downforce levels, and in that configuration Renault seem to have had a more favourable lift to drag ratio than McLaren – the set up changes that Ricciardo mentions Renault experimented with in Spa also seem to have helped them extract more of the potential performance of the car too.

      3. They need their new windtunnel I think @spafrancorchamps. But they can probably still get there with some free practice running. You can imagine with such a new nose there’s a lot to sort out downstream.

      4. Mclaren has been doubling their points haul every year for couple of years. And I’d be surprised if they don’t get more point this year compared to 2019, with fewer races on calendar. Doubling points would be pretty incredible considering the massive leap there is from mclaren to verstappen. This year is also the toughest for a team trying to get that magical 4th in points behind ferrari, red bull and mercedes. Racing point has been really good and ferrari has been struggling. And renault is really close behind. Mclaren mighyt end up with more points than 2019 while still being lower in points standings. Is that moving forward?

        It is tough but mclaren should win the mid field battle. I don’t mean should as in they are fast enough or the favourite. I mean if mclaren does not get there then it looks bad on them. Mclaren is the team that should be doing to red bull what red bull is doing to mercedes. Take every opportunity to take points away from them with inferior car. I think this year is the litmus test for mclaren. Mclaren needs to prove they can beat renault and racing point even with a worse car by being better on all other areas. That is the only way they can (sometimes) fight against red bull next year and the year after that. If hey can not do it with rp and renault then red bull is impossible target. Which also means mclaren is stagnating.

      5. Of course changing the front philosophy mid-season mostly means it’s more important to develop for next year than to fight for position in this, but I guess they have to say they are, if nothing else for their competitors to get lost in this fight and possibly get behind on some of their long term development plans.

      6. Have to disagree there. McLaren had the fourth fastest car at the start of the season (behind Mercedes, RBR, and RP) and their race management and drivers allowed them to hold off Renault and RP. Recent tracks have also favoured Renault over McLaren and even the RPs at times, but the MCL35 succeeds at suitable tracks in the same way. Take Austria and Italy where they were the third and second fastest teams on pure pace alone. It has just transpired that their suitable tracks have come earlier in the season than Renault/RPs, and that makes it much harder to balance the 2021 upgrades. The new aero package hasn’t really been tested yet – one practice session and a race when it wasn’t set up. Last week Norris would easily have finished fourth had it not been for the Renault power unit, and even with the untuned upgrades Sainz made it to fifth. To me, that doesn’t seem like a loss of competitive pace, it seems more like unavoidable fluctuations in team performance over the season and an inevitable balancing act between this year and next year.

    2. So Ferrari’s and Alfa Romeo’s levels of performance are finally going to be more representative of the real-life 2020 season.

    3. Portugal reconsiders allowing fans to attend F1 race

      I would think that’s a good idea.

      With McLaren I think they are still moving forward but I would imagine they must for the sake of 2021, have moved a considerable amount of resources to the redesign of the chassis/rear aero to accommodate the Merc PU, On top of the compulsory changes bought on by the new regs. Remember they did go through a financial crisis of their own earlier in the season, while RP & Renault have been able to benefit from the money poured into the teams by their respective owners.

    4. Cotd, nicely put!

      1. Thanks and thanks @keithcollantine for the mention.

    Comments are closed.