‘Best weekend of the season’ gives McLaren momentum, says Seidl
It was somewhat of a bittersweet French Grand Prix for McLaren, with the team celebrating Carlos Sainz’s impressive drive to sixth place while lamenting Lando Norris’ late-race fall from seventh to 10th (later to become ninth) at the hands of a hydraulic issue.
Despite that, freshly-installed Team Principal Andreas Seidl was in no doubt that the race performance – on top of a stunning qualifying that saw Norris and Sainz net fifth and sixth places on the grid respectively – had been the team’s finest so far in 2019.
“It’s been our best weekend of the season and it was encouraging to see our car performing well from the first practice session until the end of the race,” said Seidl. “This gives us good momentum to keep pushing flat out as the pendulum of performance swings between teams from circuit to circuit.
“Carlos and Lando both did a great job managing the tyres over the distance. It was unfortunate that Lando lost positions on the final lap but he and the engineers did very well to battle through the second half of the race after a hydraulic issue arose affecting gear shifting, braking and steering.”
Having got ahead of Norris at the start before trying in vain to get on terms with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, Sainz was then left to run what became an increasingly lonely race as mechanical issues hobbled his team mate. But lonely or not, the Spaniard was nonetheless delighted at his team’s execution in Paul Ricard – and believes that McLaren’s evolving personnel structure was helping them take the fight to their midfield rivals.
“I was happy to see in the race that we were still the fourth fastest car, not only in qualifying,” said Sainz. “There are going to be tracks that Renault are strong at, tracks that Haas are going to be strong and there are going to be tracks where the McLaren is going to be strong like here, so we need to make sure we maximise our opportunities and that we keep improving the car.
The spirit between Lando and myself is very good and I think that is helping the team to move forward and it's just good vibes all round
“I'm proud and happy for the factory,” he added. “Zak [Brown, McLaren Racing CEO] has done a tremendous job in signing, I think, the right people. I mean the future will prove but I think James Key and Andreas Seidl are definitely good additions to the team. The spirit between Lando and myself is also very good and I think that is helping the team to move forward and it's just good vibes all round.”
Good vibes, and good points too, with the French Grand Prix result helping fourth-placed McLaren to open the gap to Renault back out from two points to eight in the constructors’ standings, aided by Daniel Ricciardo’s post-race penalties that saw him drop from seventh out of the points to 11th, promoting Norris back up to ninth in the process.