Andreas Seidl is being realistic of the fight for third in the F1 constructors’ championship against Ferrari, and is looking at the larger picture.

For most part of 2021, McLaren have looked stronger for taking the much coveted P3 in the F1 constructors’ championship ahead of Ferrari. Team boss Seidl gives his take on what happened over the course of the recent triple header that has left the Woking outfit well and truly on the back foot.

Most would have bet comfortably at the half way stage of the season that McLaren would claim best of the rest this year ahead of, although narrowly, Ferrari. But 2021’s final triple header saw major resurgence from the Italian manufacturer, and they have completely turned the table in just a few races and now look set to claim that P3.

But not only have Ferrari found pace, McLaren hit a wall of bad luck. Losing ground to Ferrari in terms of pace is bad enough but encountering obstacles including reliability, damage, penalties etc saw the effects of Ferrari’s leap forward compounded.

“Clearly we have to face the reality,” said Seidl to media including “If everything goes well for Ferrari now until the end of season, it’ll be difficult. At the same time, as long as it’s theoretically possible – I’ve seen several times this year obviously what can happen at a race weekend – we will try to hang in there.

“It’s important now to get back to simply scoring the results that are on the table for us. I think also in the last three race weekends where we didn’t have the strongest car in this battle we were in, it was still possible to score good results. This is what we didn’t manage that we need to do better,” summed up Seidl.

The 2021 season proves that anything can happen in F1, which is why McLaren retain hope that something can happen in the final two races to swing the tide in their favour again. But it’s going to take a massive effort and a massive slice of good fortune. “I think to a certain degree we have to accept that it has been tough for the entire team, scoring four points in three races is obviously painful,” said Seidl.

“But if we also look at what happened and how we lost a lot of points, things have been out of our hands or bad luck. And that is part of the sport we are in. I think the good thing is that we have seen the gap [in Qatar] and we had a competitive car, two drivers who were competitive on track and the team did a good job with pitstops. So we just have to come back to Saudi and strike back,” summed up Seidl.

Just four points in three races sums it up. To put that in perspective Alfa Romeo scored the same amount of points over the course of the triple header. But like Seidl says, luck is a huge part of F1, sometimes it will work for you and sometimes against, you just have to take it in your stride. A P finishes for McLaren, though, wouldn’t be a disaster by any stretch of the imagination but on paper it’s a step backwards from last year.

Seidl and the team can look at the bigger picture, however. “I guess before the start of the season if someone would have said we’d finish in F1 P4 this year I probably would have taken it,” he said. “But at the same time we are racers. If we get close to P3, we have led the championship [against Ferrari] for quite a bit this season, we want to battle for this P3.

“In terms of what we deserve as a team, if you are in P4 you deserve to be P4. It’s the same as last year when we were in P3 we deserved to be P3 because we were the third-best team. It’s not a surprise that a team like Ferrari, after the specifically bad year they had last year, is coming back strongly. In the end they just get back to where you expect them to be with the experience they are having, with the people they are having, the results they’re having with the drivers. So I would say that’s not a surprise,” summed up Seidl.

Ferrari were always going to bounce back in 2021 after the disaster of 2020. Them falling so far down the pecking order was not foreseen and it helped a bit for McLaren to be P3 in 2020 pretty much. But Ferrari are naturally back and will take that momentum into 2022 which will make it even harder for McLaren to encroach on F1’s Top 3 unless Red Bull or Mercedes take any significant steps backwards.

There are definitely positives for McLaren this season despite slipping backwards in the table. “Of course, we’re all focused on this P3/P4 battle at the moment,” said Seidl. “But as I always said, we have a realistic view of where we are with the team right now. And the most important thing is again, that we clearly made a next big step forward as a team this year, in terms of the car. We look at the average point scoring this year, it went up quite a bit.

“The lap time deficit compared to Red Bull and Mercedes was again, quite a bit smaller compared to last year,” summed up Seidl. Those are two enormous positives for McLaren. Increased average points scoring and decreased deficit to Red Bull and Mercedes. Clear indication that 2021 has been another step forward for McLaren who since 2017 have kept on building and improving and that upwards trajectory doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Wherever McLaren find themselves after Abu Dhabi, they can certainly be proud of 2021 and if they come out competitive in 2022, anything could happen.

The story was written by Ollie Pattas

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