The heartache of having Lando Norris lose out on victory so late in the Russian Grand Prix is just part of McLaren’s journey back to becoming a force again in Formula 1, says Andreas Seidl.
Norris took pole position in Sochi and led for much of the race, with Lewis Hamilton closing in but appearing unable to pass once he got within striking distance of the McLaren. However, Norris opted to stay out on slick tires during a late rain shower and dropped down the order to seventh place while Hamilton won, and Seidl said it was a good reminder of how tough it is to succeed in F1 following the team’s one-two in Monza.
“I see us simply being in the middle of a journey, getting back to the front in Formula 1,” Seidl said. “We have a clear plan in place of what we need to make in terms of steps, on the infrastructure side, on the organizational side, on the cultural side in order to make these next steps in order to battle the teams in front of us at each race weekend.
“Part of this journey is also that you have to accept that it doesn’t always go onwards and upwards. It’s normal and part of this sport that you have days like [Sunday] which are obviously a big disappointment, but it’s also an opportunity to stay humble, to keep both feet on the ground – which is important in this sport – to keep the respect up for all your competitors as well, and to simply keep learning.
“With everything I’m seeing in the team, I’m very, very happy and very confident that once we have everything in place that we need on our journey, we will be in a position to fight Red Bull and Mercedes again regularly. And obviously it’s great to see that already now, occasionally, depending on the tracks as well, we are actually in a position to fight for pole positions and for a race win.”
Seidl said he pushes his team to learn as much when things go right as when they go wrong in order to keep progressing.
“It is clear when I look back at the last two and a half years, we made big steps forward in terms of the execution and the operation as a race team during race weekends,” he said. “A big part of that is simply the stability we have now in the team in terms of personnel. We were building this up together, we were learning from the mistakes that were happening, and I think that’s what you see in terms of results.
“We have had a great run of reliability – which is obviously key to scoring these points all the time – from the car side. Despite what happened at the end of the race (in Russia), we have a race team that is most of the time spot-on with the strategy and with tire usage and so on during a race, so I am very happy with the progress we are making.
“But of course, compared to the teams that are ahead of us in the championship we still have deficits, I would say, in all areas. That’s why it’s important after a weekend like Monza, or after a pole position like [in Russia], the first thing you have to do is analyze what you could have done better. Because there’s always something you can do better and the moment you are satisfied with what you have achieved, it’s the start of the decline, so that’s how we approach it.”