Closing the gap to the top of the field was more important for McLaren than finishing P3 in the standings, says CEO Zak Brown.
2020 proved to be the British team’s best season in a while as they fought off Racing Point and Renault to take the final top-three spot in the Constructors’ Championship.
They were also much closer to Mercedes when it came to outright pace, and Brown says that because of that, they would have been happy come the end of the season even if they finished in P5.
“We narrowed the gap in 2020,” he told RacingNews365.
“The gap to Mercedes was smaller than in 2019, but we were still far away from them. Despite that, however, we could still have finished fifth in the championship.
“So yes, we sit here and talk about what a good year we have had, in which we finished third. However, we would have been just as happy if we had closed the gap and finished fifth.
“That is also something we discussed with the new investors. There are two different things to look at: the ranking in the Constructors’ Championship and your racing and qualifying pace compared to the winning team. We kind of closed that hole, but it’s still life-size.”
Brown has previously stated that the reason his team won the midfield battle was because they had two drivers in Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz that both performed well, while their rivals were carried by Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo respectively.
He has reiterated that belief, and with Ricciardo joining and the team switching to Mercedes engines, he feels that they can repeat their achievements in 2021.
“That’s why we finished third last year,” he said.
“Our two drivers were very close together and that made all the difference. In 2021 we also have a great line-up and the advantage of a Mercedes engine, although that has cost us tokens.”
“Can you brush that off against each other? I don’t know, we’ll find out next season. I definitely think we have a chance at third place, but in 2020 we were not the third but the fourth fastest car.