McLaren F1 team had one of their best seasons in recent history, improving on a terrific 2019 campaign to close the gap on the top three teams in F1. For 2020, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris carried on with the team after the pair helped McLaren to a fourth-place finish in the 2019 constructor standings – their highest-ever finish in the Championship since 2013.
The team smashed that once again in 2020 as they took third place in the Championship, collecting a total of 202 points. Sainz accumulated 105 points, while Norris collected 97 points.
The high point for the British-based team takes us to the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, which will go down as one of the most thrilling and entertaining races in the last decade.
Sainz took the team’s best result of the season in Monza with a second-place finish and was unlucky not to secure his maiden Grand Prix win as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly edged the Spaniard. A retirement from Max Verstappen, a ten-second penalty for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas saw Sainz, alongside Gasly and Lance Stroll, secure the podium places – the first time since 2013 that no driver from Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes was on the podium.
Let’s not forget how the season also started for McLaren at the Austrian Grand Prix, with ‘last-lap’ Norris also scoring the first podium of his career, reducing a gap of five seconds between himself and Hamilton, who had a five-second penalty, to finish third on the final lap.
… and the Lows
It was particularly hard to find any low points, as McLaren seemingly had a fantastic season, although the trip to the Russian Grand Prix would have been distant memory for McLaren, especially Sainz.
After an excellent qualifying session, both drivers started on the grid in points position, although that would seemingly change after one lap. A chaotic start saw Sainz hit the wall when trying to rejoin the track at turn three, and was lucky not to his team-mate in the process, as Norris fell down the pecking order trying to clear Sainz. The Spaniard’s race was ended early on, as Norris couldn’t force his way through the pack, finishing in his lowest position of the season in fifteenth.
The qualifying battle between the two McLaren’s was one of the hotly contested duels between any other team on the grid, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix having to settle the final outcome. Norris took the battle of qualifying, as he out out-qualified his team-mate nine times compared to Sainz who managed to out-qualified him eight times. He lost the battle in Abu Dhabi after Norris qualified in fourth, Sainz in sixth.
Across the seventeen-race calendar, both drivers managed to reach session three in qualifying fourteen times and were eliminated three times in session two, always progressing past session one.
Throughout 2020, Sainz and Norris couldn’t be separated in qualifying, as the pair also shared the best qualifying result in third – Norris in Austria and Sainz in Styria – becoming one of the best duels to watch on the grid every weekend.
If you thought the qualifying battle was close, then the race battle couldn’t even be separated in the seventeen races.
Sainz suffered more retirements throughout the season with three, including a ‘did not start’ in Belgium, while Norris suffered just one retirement. That failure to start in the Belgian Grand Prix meant Norris also edged the race battle with nine wins to Sainz eight, but the Spaniard recored McLaren’s highest result of the season in second at the Italian Grand Prix, where as Norris managed third at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard outscored his team-mate in the drivers’ standing, scoring 105 points to finish sixth – equalling his highest-ever result in F1 from 2019. On the other hand, Norris was outscored by just eight points (97) to finish ninth – beating his maiden season of eleventh place last season.
|Round||Sainz Qualifying||Norris Qualifying||Sainz Race||Norris Race|
What to look out for in 2021
In the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Championship, Norris will be joined by experienced F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo after Sainz agreed to join Ferrari for 2021 at the beginning of the 2020 season. We can expect some more fantastic results from the British team, who will have the Mercedes engine for 2021, improving sufficiently on their Renault engine.
McLaren could easily challenge for podiums every weekend in 2021, if the Mercedes engine has an impact similar to the Racing Point, and have some more heated contest between Riccardo and Norris on the grid next year.