McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl commended his team for the step forward it has achieved this year but says “a lot of deficits” will need to be reduced for the papaya squad to close the gap with F1’s front-runners.
McLaren concluded its 2020 campaign as the third best team on the grid after delivering a solid result in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP.
The Woking-based outfit made steady gains this season in the wake of a series of significant structural and operational changes implemented in 2019.
Next season will see McLaren reunite with engine supplier Mercedes, a change that many believe will deliver another step forward. But Seidl warns that F1’s current pacesetters – Mercedes and Red Bull – will likely remain out of McLaren’s reach in 2021.
“I think we need to stay realistic,” said the German. “Despite the good result we have this weekend and, despite the great outcome for us in the championship side, with P3, I think we know exactly where we are.
“There’s still a huge gap to the cars in front, especially the Mercedes car.”
Catching up with F1’s leaders and winning races consistently on merit is a multi-year plan for McLaren. But Seidl recognizes that this year’s installment proved conclusive on several fronts.
“I think the most important thing is to first of all see that the team this year, under the leadership of James Key, has produced a very competitive car,” he said. “It is a step forward compared to last year.
“It was great to see also that despite all these challenges in the pandemic, that the team kept pushing flat out back home in engineering, and in production, to continuously bring updates to the track, which in the end, kept improving the performance of the car.
“And of course it’s a great finish to the season, knowing that at this track, at this specific event, we had the third fastest car.”
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But as McLaren looks to the future, Seidl knows that several foundation pillars still need to be poured at Woking for the team to give Mercedes a serious run for its money.
“We know what the gap to Mercedes is. It is not something we will close from one year to the next year,” he explained.
“We still know that we have a lot of deficits within the team in terms of organisation, in terms of infrastructure, which we need to close first.
“But again, we have a clear plan of how we want to reduce these deficits. It will take time. But I’m confident that if we do the right things on the team side, we can close these gaps in some years.”
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