Andreas Seidl feels that reliability rather than pace will determine which team wins the fight for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.
The Portuguese Grand Prix was a positive weekend for Seidl and co as gains were made on Racing Point and Renault, with McLaren scoring two more points than both thanks to Carlos Sainz’s P6 finish.
The British team, sat in P4 in the standings, now trails Racing Point by two points and leads Renault by four, with five races left of the season.
In terms of outright pace, the MCL35 is arguably the weakest of the three cars at most races, but Seidl thinks that reliability is more important.
“Overall, I was quite happy with how the weekend went after Nurburgring,” the team principal told Autosport.com.
“I think we started with a solid car configuration with the new nosebox and aero concept on Friday. We tested some more updates during Friday, which we plan to introduce from Imola onwards, after seeing the positive results.
“And then also for the rest of the weekend, I think we had a competitive car, which was good, which was another confirmation that we have a car to fight for this P3 in the championship.
“But in the end, it will be down to reliability, to maximising the races and making sure you see the chequered flag with both cars. This will decide who in the end will finish in P3.”
A frantic start to the race at Portimao saw Sainz briefly take the lead before being passed by the Mercedes drivers and Max Verstappen.
While the team never got their hopes up staying in front, Seidl says that leading the race was good for motivation.
“Obviously it gave some nice pictures, which we will put up at home for additional motivation in order to keep us going towards the goal we all have to get back to the front end in F1 in the coming years,” he said.
“So that gave a nice taste, and it was good to see, to have some leading laps, but at the same time, it was also clear that we had to focus on our own race, and so we were quickly back then in the fight where we belong.
“But was interesting to see. We know from Carlos and Lando, they like these conditions also. Of course, we had an advantage with the soft tyres compared to the guys on the medium tyres, to Mercedes and Charles.
“But compared to Verstappen, who was also on soft tyres, Carlos put up a good show, and could actually put in a nice gap within some laps. But then we were quickly back to reality.”