Andreas Seidl is grateful that Sir Lewis Hamilton has tipped McLaren to become World Championship challengers – but will not let himself get carried away.
Hamilton, who gave McLaren their last world title of any description when he won the drivers’ Championship in 2008, thinks his old team can make it a three-way fight at the top.
“I’m really happy to see McLaren so close, particularly with how they’ve got changes and they are using our engine this year,” said the currently out-of-contract Mercedes driver.
“Perhaps they can be in the fight with us this year. If that makes it a three-way team Championship, I think that would be amazing for the fans to see.”
Although it may not be an absolute game-changer, the Mercedes engine to which McLaren have switched – having previously had Renault power – is expected to make them even more competitive after edging out Racing Point and Renault to finish third in the constructors’ Championship last season.
While the medium-term aim is for McLaren to return to their title-winning days, their team principal Seidl refuses to get ahead of himself by believing they can fast-track their way to throwing down the gauntlet to Mercedes – with the major regulation changes in 2022 offering a much more sensible opportunity.
“It’s obviously nice for all of us at McLaren that Lewis, who started his career at McLaren and won his first title with McLaren, is respecting and watching the progress we make as a team,” said Seidl, quoted by GP Fans.
“But as I have said before, we have a clear picture and a realistic picture of where we are as a team.”
The last time McLaren had Mercedes power was in 2014, ending a successful 20-year partnership that yielded three drivers’ crowns – the first two via Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and 1999 – and one constructors’ title in the earlier of those two years.
“The guys in Brixworth are obviously very experienced,” said Seidl of the Mercedes engine division.
“There is obviously a bit of history between the guys at Brixworth and McLaren which helped to get going again, but it is also clear it is a different partnership compared to the past.
“There is a Mercedes works team in Formula 1 and we are a customer, but I am very happy with everything I have seen so far with the integration of the Mercedes power unit.
“It is going really well and we should be in good shape from the first race onwards.”