Racing Point have “clearly” the fastest car in the chase for third position in the F1 constructors’ World Championship – according to McLaren boss Andreas Seidl.
McLaren still hold third place in the standings but are under major threat from Racing Point who, at the Russian Grand Prix, narrowed the gap to two points despite having had 15 deducted earlier this season because of the copying controversy.
Renault are now seven behind McLaren, who endured a poor race at Sochi as Carlos Sainz crashed out on the opening lap and Lando Norris ran over some of the debris from his car. Norris lacked pace throughout and finished in P15.
Team principal Seidl has maintained a stance that Racing Point are favourites to end the year third behind Mercedes and Red Bull and is also now wary of the challenge from Renault.
“I think the Racing Point is similar to how it has been on average since the Barcelona [pre-season] test, it’s clearly the fastest car in this battle,” said Seidl, quoted by Crash.net.
“Renault have also clearly made a good step forward since, I think, Spa. At the same time we were always close, battling them at the races like Monza where we were in front of them, or in the mix in qualifying sessions.
“But of course we acknowledge they made a good step forward and it’s down to us to make sure we also progress with our car and find the next step in terms of pace also if we want to keep this battle alive.
“It’s positive to see how we tackle this situation also as a team between, let’s say, the race team and the development team back home.
“It’s important to analyse what happened in Russia and also in detail the introduction of the new nose box on Lando’s car – it’s important to make the right conclusions and bring upgrades in order to keep this battle alive.”
The Russian Grand Prix was the first race since Mexico last year in which McLaren had failed to score points.
“The team, at the track and back home, put in a lot of hard work so it’s a tough one to take, especially with the great atmosphere in Sochi with fans finally back in the grandstands,” added Seidl.
“It was a very disappointing Sunday for us, coming away from Russia with zero points. Our race was pretty much over after two corners, with Carlos running into the barriers and then Lando having to take avoiding action, finishing up at the back of the field.”