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F1 | McLaren’s Andrea Stella and James Key reflect on “positive season”

McLaren head of race operations Andrea Stella and executive technical director James Key look back on a positive 2021 Formula 1 season in which the team continued it’s upwards trajectory

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F1 | McLaren’s Andrea Stella and James Key reflect on “positive season”
Fuente imagen: mclaren.com

McLaren enjoyed a strong season as a team with highlights such as a 1-2 finish at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza culminating in an eventual P4 finish in the constructors’ championship behind resurgent rivals Scuderia Ferrari. The season adds to the upward trend of the team as they slowly make their way back to the front of the grid after their infamous difficult spell with Honda.

Andrea Stella and James Key have taken the time to reflect on the season, taking pride in the teams’ improvements as well as identifying areas in which improvement is still needed.

“For us the season has been positive,” said Stella.

“The main objective of this season was to confirm the upward trajectory of the team overall; not only the technical aspect.

“I think from both the technical aspect and the team overall, we can confirm that this upward trajectory is there.”

James Key agreed saying “I think it's largely a positive season. We wanted to consolidate the area on the grid we were operating... Q3 and top 10 material at every event which by and large we have been. 

“Obviously we've had some great results this year which is really good to see. We've been a bit closer to the front on several occasions and raced at the front too when tracks have suited us. I think we've seen a good progression there and we should be pleased with that.”

The season was not all positive however, with poor performances and missed opportunities plaguing the team, particularly in the latter half of the season. A blunder by Lando Norris saw an opportunity for a second win for the team slip away in the closing stages of the Russian Grand Prix, for example.

“It's been a mixed bag of late really which is probably what's done a bit of damage to the championship position,” explained Key.

“We had a difficult triple header for a lot of random reasons; some of it car performance and other things we didn't expect even when we were in good positions. 

“The tyre issue [for Norris] in Qatar for example and the red flag [in Jeddah] didn't go our way.”

Despite the highs and lows of the season, both Stella and Key have approached their evaluations with a level head, acknowledging Ferrari’s strong performances across the season as well as confirming the team's dedication to returning to the front of the grid.

“We have always been realistic. We have been fighting with Ferrari; we shouldn't forget they were on pole position in Monaco and Baku in normal dry conditions. So in a way it's almost a surprise as to why they were not there before the end of the season.” said Stella. 

“We identified plenty of opportunities in terms of improvement overall, certainly from the race team point of view and we are working on that. 

“The motivation, the dedication is there; I see a very strong team at McLaren so happy from a racing point of view I would say,” he concluded, with Key adding:

“If you look at the season as a whole, we can be pleased. We know that Ferrari are fearsome opposition. We're definitely still playing catch up in many ways to them as a team. 

“We're still quite young as an organisation; we've got investments coming to catch up to be state of the art and several new facilities. 

“To be there for so long in P3, it was great.”

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