French GP in Paul Ricard was something few people in F1 would have expected. While everyone was paying attention to the Verstappen – Hamilton fight for the win at the front of the grid, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, the two McLaren drivers, made their way with a strong performance during Sunday to come 5th and 6th respectively at the end of the race, leaving McLaren 3rd on the constructors' championship, 16 points ahead of Ferrari.
Just having concluded the race, Andreas Seidl, Team Principal of McLaren, attended a virtual press conference in which MotorLat was present, and gave his debrief of what is the best team result for the Woking-based team in 2021 so far.
“I would say it’s clearly teamwork. You need the feedback from the drivers, which would check for the assumptions the team is making and what they’re feeling as well inside the car. It’s important as to know for the feeling of the tyres, of what could they feel if the safety car comes out. At the same time, I think the drivers put their trust on us on having the big picture, a thing that drivers cannot always have. So, it’s dialogue, it’s teamwork.”
Now with the work in France done, Seidl was asked if the team was already in high expectations for the next two races heading to Austria, and the German has it very clear: “It’s difficult to predict. I think Lando always did great there and Daniel as well. So looking forward to it and I think we should be again in a good position to fight for good points.”
As calm and measured as he is, the McLaren Team Principal is not worried about what Ferrari, their main constructor’s competitor, is doing well of struggling with: “In terms of constructors championship is still early in the season. We have seen in previous races how quick they can go. There is a weekend that you struggle to score any points for any reason and others where you score many points because you grab some good opportunity. Into this race and seeing yesterday, it was difficult to predict how they will place out again, because we have been out in street circuits the past two races. Of course we have seen we have a good race car and a good qualifying car at the moment.”
“It is very important to just focus on ourselves and try to extract the maximum out of the package we have on Saturdays and Sundays, the drivers and then I think we’ll be in good position to keep this tight lap, against a pretty strong Ferrari team.”
Lando Norris is, among the 20 F1 drivers, the only one who has been able to keep his car scoring points in every one of the seven championship events. That fact has him 4th in the drivers’ championship, being “the best of the rest”, and even ahead of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes. Seidl took the opportunity to praise the growth and the development his young British driver has achieved during his time in F1 with McLaren.
“Everything we’ve seen so far from him shows that he made again a big step forward. Even after a qualifying not going according to plan, or after a race that doesn’t go to plan he stays calm and knows his opportunities are coming. He manages the tyres when he has to and also he uses the time register when he has the chance in the race. It’s really nice to see how much he has grown up in the last two years and a half.”
“Scoring each race also means that the whole team is doing a great job in terms of reliability, in terms of race strategy, in terms of pit-stops and so obviously I am very happy with what I’m seeing there.”
Seidl concluded remembering Mansour Ojjeh, a very dear team friend, who passed away early in the week. He showed happy that McLaren's form showed in the race was a perfect way of paying tribute to the late McLaren investor.
“For sure, to finish this weekend here in Paul Ricard the way we did was obviously a great way to pay tribute to Mansour. His family was here with us this weekend and we had this livery in the cars as well. As you know, for McLaren he was simply a great friend and supporter for the team. He will be deeply missed and at the same time we keep racing with his spirit.”
💯 up!— McLaren (@McLarenF1) June 21, 2021
Seven races in, let’s keep pushing team! 💪 pic.twitter.com/AtU9Lfa6kh