McLaren CEO Zak Brown hopes his team will close the gap to Mercedes in 2021, which is expected to be the fastest this year as well, and team boss Andreas Seidl believes the current wind tunnel is McLaren’s biggest constraint.

McLaren opened the season of presenting new cars yesterday and showed off its new MCL35M, the first car with a Mercedes engine since 2014, with which they hope to repeat the good results from last season and reduce the gap to the fastest cars.

Although they have stepped up for this season with a Mercedes engine and race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Brown is realistic in his expectations.

“Everyone is incredibly close, I think the title fight would be unrealistic for us at the moment,” Brown said.

“We can hope and strive to close the gap to Mercedes, which should be the fastest in 2021. The rules have not changed significantly, so I don’t think 2021 will look significantly different from 2020 except that everything will be even closer.”

“In Abu Dhabi [last season’s race] we arrived capable of finishing third, fourth or fifth and I think this year will be even closer.”

“All we can do is see which team is the fastest and hopefully close the gap to them in 2021.”

Team boss Seidl agrees with Brown and highlights the driving line-up as one of the strongest in Formula One.

“There’s a lot of positive energy ahead of this season,” Seidl said.

“Of course, in terms of driving lineup we will have one of the strongest again. We also have a power unit that wins the championships.”

2021 McLaren MCL35M Mercedes launch studio photo Photo McLaren

“But don’t forget the fight we were in last year [with Racing Point, Renault and Ferrari for third place]. We have a lot of respect for the rivals we fought last year.”

“We’ve been fighting factory teams that have an infrastructure that’s a lot more up-to-date than our current one. So I think we can be optimistic ahead of this season, but at the same time realistic about what we can achieve.”

“Simply, we need more time to execute the plan we have to get back to the top.”

“We need more time to sort out our infrastructure to be on par with the teams at the top and with those around us.”

McLaren embarked on the construction of a modern wind tunnel more than a year ago and Seidl believes the positive effects will be seen in about two years.

“The biggest topic is the wind tunnel, it will take about two years before we see the first benefits of the new tunnel, which is key to the development of a racing car. Until then, we will simply have limitations.”

“Our main goal is to take the next step as a team, with the car we have and the way we work. We want to get closer to Mercedes and Red Bull again because those steps are key to getting us back to the top of the standings at some point.”

McLAREN F1 TEAM STATISTICS (after 2020 F1 season)

First season 1966
Races started 880
Drivers’ championships 12 (1974 1976 198. 1985 1986 1988 1989 1990 1991 1998 1999 2008)
Constructors’ championships 8 (1974 1984 1985 1988 1989 1990 1991 1998)
Wins 182
Pole positions 155
Fastest laps 157
Podium places 488
Front row places 336
Laps led  10 578
Points 5555.5
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