It was a disappointing Qatar GP for the McLaren F1 team as both drivers experienced some unexpected and unresolved issues that cost them valuable points in the constructors’ championship. Lando Norris managed to secure a place in the points with a top ten finish in ninth while Daniel Ricciardo finished twelfth. Despite the (disappointing) results in Doha, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl remains positive and focused on ending the last two races on a high.
After the Qatar GP, Seidl spoke to selected media including MotorLat and discussed the highs and lows that the McLaren team experienced on track in Doha. While Norris had a solid sixth-place qualifying result, it was the unexpected tyre failure toward the end of the race that caused the Brit to miss out on securing a greater race result. Seidl expressed his frustration with Norris’s tyre issue calling it a “wasted opportunity.”
“It was a sudden unexpected tyre failure and it was a big disappointment for us because it was a weekend where we could score points,” said the McLaren team boss.
“But unfortunately, it was a wasted opportunity, it didn’t go our way...and things like that happen in our sport…”
“Otherwise, making sure that the last two races, is important in fighting because as long as it’s very possible then we can focus on the championship and implement that with simply finishing on a high.”
One positive that McLaren can take away from the Qatar race weekend, was that Norris showed he had the pace to finish in a significantly higher position than P9. Seidl told Motorlat directly, that if he set damage limitations aside he believes that the 22-year-old McLaren driver would have had the pace to finish in the top five.
“He (Norris) would have definitely had a P4 or P5 merit today. That’s the positive and an even bigger shame that he couldn’t, that he had this (tyre) puncture,'' he said.
“Independent of the battle in the constructors’ championship, there are successes that can be achieved. So let’s be positive, I would say anywhere from here that we could actually show the pace this weekend.”
Ricciardo on the other hand experienced some unforeseen issues involving fuel saving that affected his race result. Seidl addressed how difficult it was for the Aussie to move up on the grid from his fourteenth place starting position to ending the race in twelfth.
“It was a good start to the race, which we had to do a lot of fuel-saving unexpectedly, which compromised, in the end, his (Ricciardo) race quite a lot and took away any chance for him to get back into the points.”
In addition to discussing McLaren’s performance at the Qatar GP, Seidl also addressed two controversial subjects that have made headlines recently. One has been the battle for the World Drivers' Championship between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which has been action-packed on track and dramatic off track as well. The rivalry between the Red Bull team principal and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff often produces extra entertainment for the fans, which Seidl finds “good for the show.” However, it was Horner’s recent remarks calling one of the marshalls a “rouge marshall” which laded the Red Bull boss in trouble with the FIA that Seidl expressed disapproval over.
"If you watch everything which is ongoing at the moment, it is clear, obviously, there's a lot at stake,'' he said.
''It's different to the battles we are in further back and is obviously great to a certain degree for the fans and for the show because in the end it should be entertainment as well.
"But I definitely think that some of the comments we've seen in recent weeks, it's definitely not something I could imagine would come from us in such a situation.
"I think it's very important, and it doesn't matter if you fight for wins, or if you are last, that you always keep respect for the competitors, for the FIA, for F1.”
"We are in this together, and it is important that there is respect for the volunteers who help us, in the end, to put on these race weekends."
The other hot topic Seidl spoke about was over Lewis Hamilton’s comments that with different stewards (in the FIA), you can expect a different decision or different call made on a penalty investigation.
“To be honest, my opinion hasn't changed on this,” Seidl said.
“I don't think that not having permanent stewards is the issue to be honest, because as far as I understand, whenever there is a case popping up the first thing stewards are doing is going back through the history of cases and see the race incidents and check if there's anything comparable or not in order to try to be consistent and understandable so that after each race weekend.”
“There's a lot of exchanges between stewards to make sure everyone is on the same level of information and understands what happened.”