McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says performing at tracks which do not suit them, perhaps like the Hungaroring, is vital to their season.
The Woking outfit head into the Hungarian Grand Prix holding P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, although a much-improved Ferrari continue to hound them, 15 points behind.
Their next battle ground will be the Hungaroring, a track often termed ‘Monaco without the walls’.
So, considering their performance levels in Monaco this year, this is a track which in theory should suit both Ferrari and McLaren.
But Carlos Sainz has already argued this may not be the case for Ferrari, due to the high-downforce cars turning Hungary into a faster lap, and now Seidl has expressed some doubts over McLaren’s suitability for this track.
That said, performances at a potentially tricky venue like this are what Seidl says will determine this battle in the Constructors’.
“The Hungaroring presents the team with an interesting challenge compared to the relatively high-speed tracks of Austria and Silverstone. With high downforce levels and a tight, twisting layout, it’s no surprise many often describe the circuit as Monaco without the walls,” he said.
“The team, along with Lando [Norris] and Daniel [Ricciardo], have done a fantastic job so far to put us in this position in the Constructors’ Championship. But we know the fight is far from over and momentum could shift away from us with a single difficult weekend.
“The challenges posed by the Hungaroring may not suit our car as much as other circuits on the calendar, but much of the fight for third this year will be decided by how well we perform at tracks that don’t naturally play to our strengths.
“We’ll be working hard as a team, alongside Mercedes HPP, to ensure we maximise any opportunities that present themselves over the weekend.
“As always, the aim is to score a good haul of points and keep pushing for the highest possible position in the Constructors’ Championship. The team will be giving it all this weekend before we have a chance to regroup and recharge over the summer break.”
When it comes to having a reliable points-scorer, McLaren have the best one on the grid at present in Norris, the only driver to have scored points in every round of the 2021 season so far.
It is a track which holds a special place in the Briton’s heart, having made his official F1 test debut there in 2017, and now he will look to navigate the tricky challenge of the Hungaroring to finish the first part of 2021 on a high.
“I’m looking forward to heading back to Hungary, a track that has good memories for me after my official F1 test debut there in 2017,” he said.
“We’ve had a good start to the season so far and we’ll be aiming to finish the first half of the year on a high, before a break over the summer shutdown.
“The Hungaroring can be a tricky circuit to get right and we know it will be a challenge to outperform our closest rivals in the Constructors’ Championship. But we’ll give it everything to continue building that gap and set ourselves up for a strong second half of the season.”
McLaren have everything they need for success from a driver standpoint with Ricciardo, a former winner in Hungary, raring to go on the other side of the garage.
The Australian won there for Red Bull in 2014 but now is targeting an improvement in his qualifying form behind the wheel of the MCL35M to boost his chances of a strong result.
“I can’t wait to go to Budapest, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the calendar and a race I’ve won in the past,” he said.
“It’s a very tight and technical circuit with high levels of downforce required on the car. But that just adds to the challenge and excitement for me – it’s a real driver’s track.
“It’s a circuit where overtaking can be difficult, so we’ll work hard to maximise our performance on Saturday which should line us up for a slightly easier Sunday.
“As always, we’ll keep working hard to score as many points as we can and keep pushing in the Constructors’ Championship.”