McLaren F1 Team will continue to further develop the recent updates during the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend, after the reduced weekend at the Nürburgring stalled development of key components such as the team’s Mercedes-style nose box.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl confirmed that the team would be persisting with the development of the updated nose box, which was first fitted to Lando Norris‘ car, at the Russian Grand Prix and then was seen on just Carlos Sainz Jr.‘s car, at the Eifel Grand Prix. The team were unable to utilise all sessions ahead of the race due to poor weather conditions cancelling both Friday Free Practices.
“Our focus since Germany has been on analysing and understanding the data we gathered at the Nürburgring so that we come to the right conclusions and find the best way to progress.” Said Seidl. “Based on that analysis we will continue to use our new nose box aero concept combined with a known competitive car configuration. We will continue to bring more new upgrades to the car to test on Friday and also further explore and quantify our new aero concept.”
With Portimão Circuit only used for testing in recent years, the drivers will be going to the circuit, like Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, with no previous racing experience on the track. Norris could have a potential edge, having tested there in 2017 with the team.
He said: “I actually got to do a two-day test there in a 2011 MP4-26 back in 2017, which was a bit different to the usual few laps testing at Silverstone. Not sure if it will give me a little bit of an edge on the drivers who are new to the track, but we’ll have to wait and see.
“It’s really cool that we’re able to race at tracks like Portimão that are completely new to F1 during this unusual season. The circuit is probably new to a lot of the guys with a few of them having experience there in junior levels.”
Unlike his teammate, Sainz is much like the majority of the grid, having not experienced Portimão in his career, adding: “Portimão is definitely an unknown for me, as it is for many of the drivers and for F1. I like the challenge and I’m looking to get up to speed right from the start of the weekend.”
Last time out at the Nürburgring, Sainz finished in fifth place, but was critical of his performance, believing there is more to come with the new updates to the nose box and the aero: “Germany wasn’t our best weekend despite scoring a good result in P5,” he said. “We’ve been working hard these past days with all the data gathered in the race and hopefully we can address the issues we faced coming into Portugal.”
Over the Eifel Grand Prix weekend Norris fared better than Sainz for the most part of the weekend, though power issues with his McLaren MCL35, cumulated in the Brit retiring from the race after having battled lap after lap to retain fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship.
“The Nürburgring was the first time this season that we couldn’t get the car over the finish line, which I’m a bit gutted about.” Said Norris, “I gave it my all, but it just wasn’t meant to be and we missed out on a good chunk of points. We’re still in the fight and we’ve got something to chase. We just need to focus on ourselves and take each race as it comes.”