Andreas Seidl says no one within the McLaren F1 Team expected such a leap in performance in 2019, especially compared to how the team performed in 2018, and he gives some of the credit to last year’s drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne for their feedback on what needed to be improved.
Both Alonso and Vandoorne left McLaren at the end of last year to be replaced by Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris, but the former drivers left their footprints in the sand as they were able to steer the designers and engineers down the correct path for development.
This has resulted in the current drivers being able to have more opportunities to put in much better performances in 2019, with McLaren currently sitting fourth in the Constructors’ Championship after a two-car points finish in last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
“I think no one expected it inside the team, after finishing the  season as the ninth fastest car to make such a step,” said McLaren Team Principal Seidl to Motorsport.com. “It simply shows that a lot of the changes that were triggered last year are paying off.
“The team did a good job in bringing this year’s car on track. They understood a lot after the input of the drivers from last year, and we should pay a lot of credit to Fernando and Stoffel, pointing out what the weaknesses were and what direction we needed to develop the car. That all pays off now.”
Seidl says the team will continue with the development of the car this season in a bid to retain their position at the front of the midfield, especially as he knows the battle amongst the teams is so tight and fierce.
He says everyone will need to keep themselves focused on the ultimate goal of eliminating the remaining weaknesses from the MCL34 to ensure they maintain their current position as the fourth best team on the grid.
“The target is for us this year to still keep going with the development of the car,” added Seidl. “Of course now we want to make sure that we keep this [fourth] position for a while, but still we have seen it can change quickly again. It is still a tight battle.
“The gaps we have today are nothing over a race distance, so it is important to not get too excited about it, keep our head down and keep focusing on the weaknesses we still have on the car.
“In the last two races we also had the fourth fastest car, so we deserve to be in fourth place in the constructors’ championship. But up to the Paul Ricard race we have to be honest: we didn’t have the fourth fastest car.
“It was somewhere between the fifth and seventh fastest car and in the end we were in P4 because we had better reliability, better pit stops, better strategy, or better understanding of the tyres.”