With teams having to come to terms with a strict cost cap in 2021, Lando Norris’ mind-blowing performance at the Emilia Romagna GP was not the only cause of celebration in the McLaren’s garage.
Indeed, team principal Andreas Seidl admitted after the podium-grabbing race at Imola that he was thankful that both of their drivers had avoided any major incidents so far this year – while adding that the cost cap wouldn’t change McLaren’s approach to racing in 2021.
The same does not hold true for championship defenders. After Valtteri Bottas and George Russell’s crash in the second half of the race, Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff declared being “not amused” by the situation. Wolff admitted the accident could potentially hinder the development of their W12 car.
“It is quite a big shunt actually. Our car is destroyed […], this is certainly not what we were expecting.''
Talking about the spillover effects that the budget cap might generate on the team’s approach to the season, Seidl said:
“It’s a challenge that we are aware of on the financial side, but that is not something that we have in mind when they go into a race weekend or into a qualifying session or into a race”.
Both the drivers and the garage try to work together and be clever on track, yet at McLaren, they don’t want financial pressure to hold them back from performing at their maximum potential or to take reasoned risks.
“We always try, together with our drivers, to be sensible and reasonable on track,
“But at the same time, we are ambitious and want to go for good results. In order to do that you need to push these cars to the limit. Therefore I am happy that we got away without any major incidents so far this season.”
Seidl’s approach is surely doing good to the English team, which has claimed third place at Imola, representing the fourth podium conquered by McLaren since the German’s stewardship began in May 2019.
The team principal is certainly very happy with the progress of the entire team, especially for the youngster Lando Norris, who has made “a further step” coming into his third season in Formula One.
However, with the team currently holding onto the third place, seven points ahead of resurgent rivals Ferrari; Seidl warns that there was still a long way to go before McLaren can challenge for wins and podiums on a consistent basis.
“I definitely would say that it is a well-deserved podium,” said Seidl, speaking after the race at Imola.
“If you look at the two guys who have been in front of us [Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton], they are the reference in the sport, together with their teams at the moment. Therefore it was very good to finish in P3, but… it’s important to not get carried away with this result.
“If you look at how quickly Max can drive away in his last stint, then we see that we still have a lot of work to do. But overall it was very encouraging to see yesterday in qualifying and today in the race that it is a great confirmation for us that the entire team together with our colleagues from Mercedes over the winter did a great job” Seidl concluded.