McLaren credit P3 to fast-tracked upgrades

Jon Wilde
Carlos Sainz crosses the line as McLaren celebrate P3 in the constructors' World Championship

Carlos Sainz crosses the line as McLaren celebrate P3 in the constructors' World Championship

McLaren’s P3 in the 2020 constructors’ World Championship owed much to fast-tracking updates originally planned for the winter, says team principal Andreas Seidl.

Although Racing Point scored eight more points across the 17 races that comprised the season, McLaren took the ‘bronze medal’ behind Mercedes and Red Bull due to the 15-point penalty the ‘pink panthers’ incurred over the ‘copying’ furore.

Consistency was one of the keys for McLaren, with drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris both contributing strongly to the cause and recording a podium finish apiece.

But on the technical side, a decision to bring forward aerodynamic developments also played a significant part in increasing the car’s competitiveness.

This tied in with the fact that because McLaren are switching to Mercedes power units for 2021, they will need to spend their two development tokens on fitting the engine to the chassis.

“With the restrictions we have over the winter, not having any tokens because of the engine, we obviously had to push flat out in bringing [forward] updates we would have probably done over the winter,” explained Seidl, quoted by Autosport.

“That created an intense pressure on the development guys and the production team at the factory.

“I’m very happy with the step we could make with the car over the winter already and then the overall step we could make with performance throughout the season.

“It shows our development process under the leadership of James Key is working well, with a good correlation between what we see back home in CFD and the wind-tunnel and the track.

“In terms of developments, I wouldn’t say it was always small updates. If you look at the change we did on the nose-box, that was a big change to the aerodynamic concept of the car.”

Get your hands on the official McLaren 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store

Seidl concurred with the view that a greater reliability in their performance had also been instrumental in McLaren overcoming the challenge from Racing Point and Renault.

“I think we had a competitive car throughout the season, a bit of an all-rounder also,” said the 44-year-old German.

“We were always somehow in a position to most of the time get into Q3 and always start the races in positions where we were able to fight for good points.

“Then obviously we had a great team at the track as well, which was simply very good in terms of execution of racing, qualifying sessions, strategy.

“Reliability was outstanding on the car side, which was a big step forward compared to last year, and then also the strategy team did a great job on Sundays.

“And last but not least, our two drivers obviously did a sensational job again similar to last year. They made us score all these great points.”

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