Alonso, Vandoorne to thank for McLaren's newfound success

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says an impressive start to the 2019 campaign would not be possible without the input of last year’s drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Alonso departed McLaren, and F1, at the end of last year after the team once again failed to make good on promises to return to winning ways, or even podium-scoring ones.

Vandoorne, on the other hand, was let go after he was vastly outperformed by the double world champion across two spells, struggling to make good on the promise of a glittering junior career.

The Belgian only scored four top-10 finishes in 2018, while Alonso scored points in just one of his final nine races in F1, but Seidl says the period has proved crucial in the successes of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, with McLaren sat fourth in the constructors’ standings after nine races, 20 points clear of last year’s fourth-best team Renault.

“I think no one expected it inside the team, after finishing the [2018] season as the ninth fastest car to make such a step,” the new McLaren boss said.

“It simply shows that a lot of the changes that were triggered last year are paying off. The team did a good job in bringing this year’s car on track.

“They understood a lot after the input of the drivers from last year, and we should pay a lot of credit to Fernando and Stoffel, pointing out what the weaknesses were and what direction we needed to develop the car. That all pays off now.”

McLaren have finished ‘best of the rest’ four times in the opening nine races, with either Sainz or Norris placing ahead of the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly on three of those occasions. However, Seidl maintains that their pace is much more newfound.

“In the last two races we also had the fourth fastest car, so we deserve to be in fourth place in the constructors’ championship,” he said.

“But up to the Paul Ricard race we have to be honest: we didn’t have the fourth fastest car.

“It was somewhere between the fifth and seventh fastest car and in the end we were in P4 because we had better reliability, better pit stops, better strategy, or better understanding of the tyres.”