McLaren F1 Team ended the first race of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship with both drivers scoring valuable points, with Andreas Seidl saying the MCL35M was the third-quickest car in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both progressed to Q3 on Saturday, with the latter going narrowly quicker than his team-mate to start in sixth with Norris in seventh. However, it was the less experienced driver in Norris that got the better start at lights out, climbing to fifth, while Ricciardo dropped down to seventh.
Norris showcased McLaren’s pure pace in getting past Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’s Charles Leclerc, but was stranded in fourth for the rest of the race after Valtteri Bottas bombed ahead, with Norris costing home to fourth. Ricciardo, on the other hand, was caught in a midfield battle alongside Carlos Sainz Jr and Lance Stroll, and rarely managed to replicate the pace of his team-mate, finishing seventh.
The fourth and seventh place finishes mean McLaren racked up an impressive eighteen points on the opening weekend, already creating a seventeen point gap between themselves and their closely fought rivals last season, Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team.
Andreas Seidl, McLaren’s Team Principal, acknowledged that the MCL35M was the third-quickest car on the track today but still expects a ‘tense battle’ for third place in the standings.
“We’ve had a great start this weekend to the 2021 season. Congratulations to the whole team – here in Bahrain, back home at the factory and also, especially, to our colleagues at Mercedes, who worked really hard with our team over the winter to make sure we were ready to hit the ground running at the opening race.” Seidl said.
“Today the team executed the race very well, while Lando and Daniel drove strong races to bring us home in P4 and P7. It gives us good points in a Constructors’ Championship that looks already very, very tight. We had the third-quickest car today, but we acknowledge there’s going to be a tense battle for that spot this year.
“We leave Bahrain committed as ever to working hard, improving our car and ensuring we’re still as competitive at the final race as we were at the first.“