McLaren made a clear step forward towards the top teams this season despite missing out on third place in the constructors’ championship, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.
Ferrari finished 2021 strongly to overhaul McLaren in the final five races and pull clear to secure third place, ending up nearly 60 points ahead. However, with McLaren winning a race for the first time since 2012 and scoring a pole position, there were clear highlights that showed Seidl the team is developing and improving in the manner he wants.
“Of course when you’re in P3 for such a long time during the season, it was painful when we lost it in the triple-header due to the incidents we had on the first lap or the punctures where we lost more than 30 points,” Seidl said. “But there were lots of things we could have done as a team.
“Independent of the battle for P3/P4, it was a great season for us for a lot of reasons. We made a big step forward again with the car in terms of getting closer with the lap times in qualifying and the race to Mercedes and Red Bull. We were even in a position to occasionally challenge them at the tracks which were suiting our car.
“In terms of reliability, we had a very good season again. In terms of operational strength out here at the track, we had a very good season again. We made good steps forward in terms of consistency and speed of the pit stops. Simply the way we worked together as a team was clearly the next step, which is the most important thing for me to see because we made a major reset to the team two years ago in terms of organization, culture and we created stability which hasn’t been there before at McLaren for several years.
“We have a great team environment. We have all the talents in place that we need to make the next steps. We simply need time. We are ambitious, of course, but at the same time we need time to see the results of that. I am very happy that we could make these next steps. We just need to keep going that way and just need to get our infrastructure in place in the next two years and then I am very optimistic that we can also make these next steps.”
Additionally, Seidl believes a crucial aspect of 2021 was gaining experience with the Mercedes power unit, having made the switch from Renault one year before new technical regulations are introduced.
“One very important thing about this year was to get our partnership with Mercedes up and running,” he said. “It was very important to do this, this year. We thought with the new technical regulations coming in place, we could gain a lot of experience also with a Mercedes power unit this year.
“It puts us in a better position designing a completely new car next year already knowing the Mercedes power unit — that was a job really well done on both sides — on our side but also on Mercedes’ side, getting this done. Very pleased with that.
“A big thank you to every single member of the team for all the hard work everyone has put in for the commitment. It was, again, a tough season. We still had to operate back home but also out (at the tracks) under all these COVID policies which put a lot of burden on our people, but I am very pleased how the team was coping with these challenges and how we always kept the spirit up.
“Of course, when celebrating highlights like the victory in Monza after such a long time for McLaren was the best possible reward for everyone in the team.”