McLaren should be doing even better, says Seidl

This season has seen a far stronger McLaren than any one had been expecting, with the team returning to something like its former competitiveness on track after several years in the doldrums.

But even though it’s taken a firm grip on ‘best of the rest’ in fourth place in the constructors championship, new team principal Andreas Seidl still believes that McLaren is not performing as well as it should be in 2019.

“What we have right now at the McLaren Technology Centre or within McLaren with the budget we are having, we have to do better,” Seidl told RACER’s Chris Medland this week.

“I think that’s also clear for all of us and that’s really what drives us out of bed every morning,” he said.

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But at the same time, Seidl wasn’t playing down how much progress McLaren had made this season, and put it down to the team’s deep roots in motorsport and its fundamental strengths as a racing organisation.

“It was always clear for me that McLaren is an established racing team,” Seidl explained. “There’s a lot of talent, a lot of commitment which I saw straight away from the first day on it.

“There’s a good infrastructure in the MTC, and this – combined with the results that have been there from winter testing this year – gave this positive atmosphere or spirit which was inside the team from day one.

Seidl said that this had made it a lot easier for him to make a quick start in his new role in Formula 1, and credited CEO Zak Brown and technical director James Key for putting much of the essential foundations in place.

“[It’s] proof that the changes that Zak had initiated already last year are paying off,” he said. “They have nothing to do with me!

“Now it’s simply down to me — together with James and my leading guys — to work out the clear plan and to send it to Zak, how I want approach the next years. The 2021 regulations, obviously, play an important role as well.

“At the same time, I think it’s also important not to look for excuses in terms of regulations, budget, headcount, infrastructure and so on.”

McLaren announced just before the British Grand Prix that it was retaining both of its current drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris for 2020, putting an end to speculation that Fernando Alonso might return to the squad next year.

“The drivers are doing a sensational job,” Seidl said. “I think we have a great line-up with these two guys, that can develop towards being top drivers in the future — hopefully together with us.

“We obviously have to give them also a car in the future that they can fight it out on track – hopefully with the guys at the front!,” he said. “We keep understanding the car better and better, race by race.”

McLaren’s recovery this season has been lauded by reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drove for them from 2007 until 2012.

“It’s amazing to see McLaren doing so well,” Hamilton said last week. “They’ve had some really tough years as well.”

There was a hint that in Norris’s impressive first season with the team, Hamilton could see echoes of his own rookie year in F1 which saw him locked in battle with Alonso.

“Just watching Lando’s progression, it’s incredibly impressive to be so young and such an early phase he’s coming in, and keeping a level head and delivering on weekends, up against a driver who’s got more experience than him.”

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