Ten points behind Racing Point and with millions on the line, Zak Brown admits it won’t be easy to overhaul the pink team in the final race of this season.
This year’s championship has seen an enthralling battle for third place in the Constructors’ standings involving Racing Point, McLaren and Renault.
While the Woking team had the early advantage thanks to Lando Norris’s P3 in the opening race, the Austrian Grand Prix, Renault surged ahead mid-season through consistent points with two podiums in three races giving the Enstone team a boost.
It is, however, Racing Point who are ending the season strong.
The team has three podiums in three races, which include Sergio Perez’s victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
That saw Racing Point take a 10-point lead over McLaren with Renault a further 12 off the pace.
“I think it’s going to be very tough,” McLaren CEO Brown conceded at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP. “I think they’ve had a faster car all year.
“The points swings in the last few races have been quite big but I think on outright pace it will be difficult.
“I think all the men and women at McLaren this year have done a fantastic job of designing and building and manufacturing a competitive race car and I think our goal coming into the year was to just take a step forward on performance from last season.
“I think we’ve done that – and whether that ends up third, fourth or fifth in the Championship – Renault’s very close and and also very competitive – we’ll see what happens this weekend, but regardless of the final Constructors’ Championship, I think the team’s done an outstanding job and all credit to them for another step forward in our journey to try to get back to the front of the field.”
The three teams were separated by a mere 0.07s in Friday’s second practice with Norris ahead of Esteban Ocon and Perez. Perez, though, was on the medium tyres to his rivals’ softs.
Racing Point’s team boss Otmar Szafnauer is also downplaying his team’s chances of taking that third place.
“Well, it’s not going to be easy,” he said. “I think Zak is absolutely right, we’ve had great points swings in the last two races and that could very well happen here.
“We just have to keep our heads down and do a good job this weekend, make sure we have a normal race weekend and we’ll see where we finish.
“It would be a tremendous accomplishment if we could finish P3 but by no means will it be easy. It will be tough.”