McLaren in a five-way fight for third place in 2021 – Seidl

2021 F1 season

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the team faces a tougher fight to hold onto the third place they scored in the championship last year.

The contest for third place went down to the final race in 2020, where McLaren overtook Racing Point to claim their best finishing position in the world championship for eight years.

Seidl expects their rival, now called Aston Martin, will be one of four other contenders for third place in the points behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

“I think we will see a close fight again between us, Aston Martin, Alpine, Ferrari for sure as well will be in the fight [and] AlphaTauri looks very strong as well,” said Seidl.

McLaren set the seventh-quickest time in pre-season testing as the team prioritised proving the successful installation of its new Mercedes power unit. Seidl said the true competitive picture will become clear at the season-opening race next week.

“With everything we could see so far, we need to wait until the first race weekend. I think everything is very close together again. That’s about where we’ll be.

“It was great for us to finish third last year. But at the same time, we haven’t forgotten about the last race where we could also have easily ended up in fifth and that’s where we see us in that battle.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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19 comments on “McLaren in a five-way fight for third place in 2021 – Seidl”

  1. I honestly have a lot of difficulty seeing Alpha Tauri as regular contenders for top of the midfield. This isn’t the first time they’ve done well in preseason testing and then failed to live up to the hype/promise what have you.

    Yes they’re on an upward trajectory and i do fully expect them to be up there on tracks more suited to their car, but in comparison to all other teams that Seidl mentioned they do have a much smaller operation and that’s not to be underestimated.

    It’s logical that Seidl isn’t ruling anyone out, but I’ll believe that AT is a regular contender for top of midfield when i actually see them race for those positions.

    1. @xenn1 I wonder how smaller an operation it really is, with budget caps now involved. My guess would be that it’s way more evenly matched than before, and they are used to work with that kind of capacity so this is also a potential advantage.

      Another factor that comes into play is when will teams decide to switch the resources towards the 2022 project, I guess some will try an early switch and drop back for 2021, maybe depending on tokens, positions, listed parts or other factors. I wouldn’t write off Alpha Tauri just yet, let’s see what happens!

      1. @spoutnik yeah that is a very good point indeed! Though we shouldn’t forget that this year’s cars were designed without the budget cap, and even after the cap the bigger teams will still have an inherent advantage through the fact that the more talented (for lack of a more fitting word) will still tend to flock towards them rather than the less popular teams. I’d love to have AT join the mix, i’m just a little sceptical right now

  2. Not sure of 5. I feel it will be just 4 and Alpine won’t make the cut.

    Tsunoda will give Gasly a good run for his money and the AT will definitely be in the fight for 3rd.

  3. I honestly believe it will be a 3 way fight between Mclaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari for 3rd. I just don’t see the obese Alpine being in the thick of things too often, and I believe they will struggle with their 3 year old monocoque and design compromises this year, and I’m not sure whether Alpha Tauri will be able to maintain a strong form throughout the season.

    While most team principals are saying this year it’s just a ‘field’ and not broken up in to different tiers. I feel quite the opposite. I think there will be a battle for –
    #1 in the WCC between Mercedes and Red Bull. Which Mercedes should seal easily
    #3 in the WCC between Mclaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin
    #6 in the WCC between Alpine, Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo
    #9 in the WCC between Williams and Haas

    1. #6 in the WCC between Alpine, Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo

      So Kimi and Alonso fighting for 11th position in several races. What a sight will that be.

      It will reflect very poorly on Tsunoda and Gasly if they don’t beat these 2 veterans though.

    2. Pretty much the same thoughts as you, except I think Alfa Romeo to be in the bottom bucket along with Williams and Haas. I also predict Williams to rank better than Haas this year down to more experienced drivers vs two rookies.

      #3 for me will be McLaren, Ferrari and then Aston Martin
      #6 for me will be Alpine and then Alpha Tauri (although a lot is dependant on whether Ocon can continue upward momentum, and Tsunoda gets to grip quickly)

    3. @todfod
      I agree with you on McLaren & Ferrari fighting for 3rd position, but I’m not so sure about Aston Martin. Their reliability issues aside, the car’s long run pace didn’t look too good IMO. During his race sim on day 3 (morning session) Stroll’s pace was nothing to shout about. He got overtaken by Leclerc during his 2nd stint (Stroll started his race sim a couple of minutes earlier, he had done 3 laps more or so than Leclerc at that point) and also lapped slower than Kimi.

      1. Regarding to Aston Martin their short run pace might be not faster than McLaren, but according to the test data shown in F1 official website Aston Martin long run pace was the third quickest, and Aston Martin never did the low fuel run due to reliability issues. So we can’t push aside Aston Martin based on these issues during the test.

        1. Seems like I missed that. Do you have a link for these test data?

    4. @todfod I think that is well summed up, but I am just hopeful that you are wrong about Mercedes ‘easily’ sealing it, and that even if Max can be now within a tenth or two at least, he will be able to at least pressure LH more often and we’ll not have LH able to crank things down and conserve and just cruise it to the end out front. I’m sure I’m far from the only one, and even LH claims to want that challenge too. It’s all just going to have to play out, and of course nobody will be surprised if you, et al, turn out right.

    5. @todfod Ferrari is likely worse than Alpine is my guess

  4. Turning Crystal Ball on for this one.

    Third will belong to a Mercedes powered car. Just saying.

    Alpine and Ferrari focused on 2022, Alonso and Leclerc will keep fighting but they’re ok with it.

    Same with Alpha Tauri, but with that Honda farewell gift bolted to the back they may get their 5th spot.

    AHW (Alfa, Haas and Williams) on an interim year so… your pick.

  5. Everyone will underplay their chances this week.

    Let’s see how things actually pan out next weekend.

  6. I think Aston Martin on paper is top 3, but I don’t see Vettel and Stroll performing at required 100% consistently as drivers. So I think McLaren will be fighting Alpine for 3rd. McLaren could have some early podiums with its new diffuser and Mercedes taking their time to get their car to work. Alpha Tauri will be good at certain tracks like last year. Ferrari, who knows but I reckon they are upper midfield. Monaco: a bit of Ricciardo or Alonso magic at Monaco for a high starting position and podium with Verstappen in the wall and Perez winning.

    1. I’m no big Vettle fan, but I honestly think if he has a car that he likes he’s as quick as anyone. A car not to his liking and he struggles.

  7. Seidl is sandbagging. McLaren is clear third. They can’t compete with RBR/Mercedes and neither can anyone compete with them.

    The other 4 will fight for fourth place.

  8. I think McLaren will be no 3 in a clear manner at the end of the season, unless … well, unless Alonso will be at his very best. Aston Martin … hm, I just don’t have a good feeling for them, but let’s see!

  9. Ou, ou, and don’t make say something about Ferrari. :(

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