McLaren boss labels 2019 an ‘incredible step forward’

McLaren finished fourth in the 2019 constructors’ championship

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has labelled the team’s 2019 Formula 1 season an ‘incredible step forward’ after rising to fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris combined to net the Woking-based squad 145 points across the season’s 21 races, enough to easily see off the likes of Renault, Toro Rosso, and Racing Point in the midfield battle.

Its tally was more than double what it achieved in 2018, when it banked 62 points on its way to finishing sixth in the standings (which would have been seventh were it not for Force India’s mid-season ownership change).

Signing for the team in late 2018 for Porsche, but only joining during the course of 2019, Seidl has been left impressed with the efforts made by the squad.

“We still have a long way to go and plenty of points on our ‘to-do’ list, but we have a clear plan and targets that we are continuing working against,” he said.

“When I signed for McLaren in November last year, I honestly didn’t expect us to fight for P4 in 2019.

“Where we were competing this season in the field is very tight which means each race we had to fight incredibly hard for points to climb up in the championship and nothing was secured until the end of the season.

“Given the difficult times the team went through, this season has been an incredible step forward. It gives us a lot of motivation and energy.”

McLaren is currently undergoing a period of change as it looks to recapture its winning ways.

The coming season will mark McLaren’s third, and last, with current engine partner Renault, with the team set to switch to Mercedes power for 2021.

There’s other work also being carried out behind the scenes, with personnel changes and the implementation of a brand-new simulator – a key component of Seidl’s master plan.

However, the confidence taken out of 2019 has set the team on a positive path according to the German.

“First, the French Grand Prix. We were clearly the fourth strongest team in qualifying and in the race, and it was at that moment that we thought we could genuinely fight for P4 in the constructors’ standings,” Seidl responded when asked if there were any standout moments during the year.

“The developments that we were bringing to the car were working well, and there were plenty more still to come. It was fantastic to see how the team back home in Woking were working hard to develop, produce and deliver the updates during the season.

“Another on-track highlight was the moment we secured P4 in the constructors’ table in Brazil,” he continued.

“We weren’t always the fourth-fastest team this year, but ending up in P4 meant we were the fourth strongest team overall.

“How we improved the car during the season, how we understood our weaknesses and how we pulled off the race weekends – the strategy calls we made, the qualifying performances, the driver performances – were all fantastic and P4 was the well-deserved reward.”

McLaren has yet to confirm when it will launch its 2020 contender, with two pre-season tests set to take place in Spain next month ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix in mid-March.