After incredibly strong finishes for both cars at last week’s thrilling Italian Grand Prix, McLaren F1 Team are slightly disappointed that they could not achieve successes of the same magnitude in Qualifying for the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix.
Last time out, Carlos Sainz Jr. wrestled his way up to second place after being compromised by a safety-car and red-flag period, pushing with all of his might to take McLaren’s third podium in the space of a year.
Lando Norris also secured a very admirable finish, taking home fourth place even though he was negatively affected by the caution periods. The valuable points brought home by the two drivers managed to elevate the team back up into third in the Constructors’ Championship, solidifying this year as McLaren’s resurrection to a top-class level.
This weekend is not shaping up to be as standout as the last, however, as the team could only manage to qualify ninth (Sainz) and eleventh (Norris) on Saturday.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl summarised the day as ‘challenging’, but he later went on to reassure fans that McLaren still have ‘the opportunity to fight’ in the race.
“A challenging two days so far for us here in Mugello. Despite improving the car for qualifying, we have to accept that P9 and P11 were pretty much everything we could achieve [in Qualifying].”
“The gap to the cars in front of us isn’t huge, which gives us the opportunity to fight [in the race]. We’ll do our homework and look to the race ahead.”
Sainz: Qualifying was ‘a good reaction to a very difficult weekend so far’
Having made it into the pole-shootout, Spaniard Carlos Sainz had mixed emotions about the Saturday performance of his McLaren.
The final session was yellow-flagged after Renault’s Esteban Ocon spun in sector one, and many drivers (including pole contender Valtteri Bottas) were forced to abort their final flying laps.
Whilst he agreed ninth was a good place to fight for points in the race, Sainz admitted he was dissatisfied with the final Qualifying session.
“[Qualifying] was a good reaction to a very difficult weekend so far. We finally managed to put a good lap together in Q2 and get through to Q3. It’s disappointing to not fully see what the car was capable of doing in Q3 due to the yellow flag but, in general, I’m happy with the turnaround we made.”
“We’ve made a lot of set-up changes across the weekend and now we’re ready for a challenging race, when we’ll try our best to fight for points.”
‘A tricky qualifying’ for Briton Lando Norris
Having reached the third part of Qualifying at every grand prix in 2020, Lando Norris is understandably dejected that he could not replicate his fine form at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
Whilst Norris was annoyed that he would not be starting from the top ten, he was quick to showcase his ‘can-do’ attitude and promise that he would ‘push hard’ for some points in the race.
“A tricky qualifying, but given how much we were struggling in FP3, there are some positives we can take away.”
“The car was a long way off the pace [in the] morning and I didn’t have much confidence, so I struggled a lot during that session. We made some good improvements going into qualifying and the result could’ve been a lot worse, but obviously I’m still frustrated to have missed out on Q3 by a few tenths. We’ll push hard [in the race] to make up a few positions and get into the points.”