Next episode of our Formula 1 half-time analysis. This time: McLaren-Renault.
Was it because of the three new ones?
One thing is certain, McLaren was the positive surprise of the first half of the season. With a new team boss Andreas Seidl (43) and the two pilots Carlos Sainz jr. (24) and Lando Norris (19), the team from Woking is fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
Nobody had expected such a performance from McLaren the beginning of the season. Especially not Renault, that supplies the engines this year, but is already 43 points behind them. For the French team, it must come close to total humiliation.
Naturally, Seidl wants to keep expectations low and displays modesty:
“Already last year, McLaren initiated a string of changes, which now bear fruits. I’m only here since May. The car, that works very well with the tires this season, was developed last winter.”
The modesty might fit the former BMW and Porsche technician but his assessment of his predecessors’ good work is only partially true.
It’s a fact that Seidl was part of the team since the Spanish Grand Prix. Both the Grand Prix in Spain and the following races in Monaco and Canada were still training.
But now it’s getting interesting. From the French Grand Prix onwards, the first event in which Seidl was fully integrated, McLaren took 52 points in five races until the summer break – 20 points more than in the seven races before.
In other words, in the five GPs with Seidl, the British averaged 10.4 points per race. In the seven before “without” the Bavarian just under 4.6. Can this be a coincidence?
We don’t think so because even Ferrari had put an eye on Seidl to hire his services. Only due to former Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene’s veto was McLaren able to hire the German.
What does Seidl do differently at McLaren? First of all, he introduced solid structures. Previously, McLaren had distributed the responsibility to various group leaders. Seidl changed that by concentrating reporting lines back to him.
Seidl: “Apart from the good car, it’s also important that the drivers feel extremely comfortable in the team – they are one of the most important components because they have to implement what the team has built up until the crucial moment during a race weekend.
“Of course, we make the final decision, but in principle, it is very important for me that the drivers feel at home.”
So far Seidl has only praise for his current drivers: “Both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris do a very, very good job, and despite their youth, they are already extremely experienced in talking to the engineers.”
Hence, it was a logical conclusion for Seidl to extended both drivers’ contract early on for 2020. It was also to send a message, as the retired former world champion Fernando Alonso, as McLaren ambassador, was constantly overshadowing both Sainz and Norris.
Seidl: “Carlos and Lando are the future, not Fernando.”
In the second half, McLaren wants to confirm the positive upward trend and defend its fourth ranking in the constructors’ championship.
Another step forward is planned for 2020 while achieving the first victories by 2021.
Seidl: “Everything else would be unrealistic.”
Comparison Sainz vs. Norris
Average faster in Q: -0.07 s
Racing comparison: 9-3
Average team points: Sainz 71%, Norris 29%
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.