McLaren won’t sacrifice 2020 progress for 2021 rules reset

McLaren’s Andreas Seidl says they have no intention of taking their eye off the ball in 2020, despite a massive ruleset change for the following season.

With a huge change in technical and sporting regulations planned for introduction for the 2021 season, there will be temptation throughout 2020 to get a headstart on other teams by switching focus as this year develops. However, with their form on the upswing for the first time in half a decade, McLaren say they won’t be tempted into throwing away 2020 for the benefit of ’21.

McLaren finished in P4 in the Constructor’s Championship in 2019, their best position in five years. They also returned to the podium for the first time since 2014, with Carlos Sainz claiming P3 at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The season also suggested that McLaren were finding performance throughout 2019 with their MCL34, and Team Principal Andreas Seidl says they’ve no desire to halt that momentum yet.

Andreas Seidl was a signing for 2019, having joined from Porsche’s LMP1 programme, and his calm, methodical approach to leading the team appears to have stabilised the ship. Seidl says 2020 is going to be a ‘balancing act’ over when to switch focus to being best prepared for the 2021 rules changes:

“The speed of your 2020 car will determine to some degree when you switch all your resources towards 2021.” Seidl explained. “It’s a juggling act that we have every year, but it’s more extreme this time because of the change in technical regulations for 2021.”

“We’re not going to sacrifice 2020; we want to have another good season because it’s important for the development of the team to have continuous improvement.”

The improved 2019 performance means that their 2020 MCL35 is now eagerly anticipated by their fans, and Seidl says the initial signs are encouraging: “I am very happy with the progress I see in the factory regarding the preparations for the 2020 season. I think we have a very good understanding of the weaknesses the MCL34 had in 2019 and it is great to see how the entire team is working together very hard on improving. I’m optimistic that we can make the next step, which is to further reduce the lap time deficit to the top three teams.”

One change McLaren are making for 2020 is to promote Andrea Stella. The Italian steps up from being Performance Director to Racing Director, effectively immediately. This change, made by Seidl, means that Stella effectively runs the team at race weekends. Seidl says that this is one small change that’s part of what’s necessary to bring McLaren back to the very front of Formula 1: “Our aim is to become the best in this sport again in the future and we know that we are far away from this right now.”

“We won’t get carried away with the good season we’ve just had; we’ll stay humble and continue to respect our competitors. We are aware of our weaknesses and will continue working hard with the plan we have in place in order to improve. We are on a journey and you can feel great momentum in the team. Our one team approach and the commitment we have from the shareholders means I’m optimistic that we can be successful again, but you need to be realistic about what’s achievable year-by-year.”

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Thomas Maher

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