McLaren impressed by Sainz & Norris’ chemistry

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris’ camaraderie have been key to McLaren’s success this season, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.

After another disappointing campaign saw the team finish a distant sixth in the Constructors’ Championship last year, McLaren made sweeping changes with Sainz coming in to replace Fernando Alonso and Norris taking over from Stoffel Vandoorne.

And the duo have certainly delivered as they have picked up 82 points between them to put the Woking squad fourth in the standings with nine races still to go.

Seidl believes that his drivers have found the right balance in terms of being competitive and pushing each other.

“Our drivers get on well and they have fun, both of which are important,” he told the McLaren F1 website.

“They understand that it’s not about the competition between them at the moment. It’s about making sure they push each other in order to lift their overall game, and at the same time help us to improve as a team.

He added: “They’ve integrated excellently within the team. They’ve proven to be very approachable and open-minded.

“That’s also why we confirmed them so early for 2020. It was important to have clarity inside the team, which allows us to focus on our core job, which is to become an even better team and deliver a quicker race car.”

Sainz has scored the bulk of the points with his tally of 58 including back-to-back fifth places in the final two races before the summer break. It puts him eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.

“Carlos’s technical ability has been impressive from the start,” Seidl said. “He has very clear feedback and he provides excellent direction in terms of development.

“Combine that with his qualifying pace, his ability as a racer and his positivity, and you have a driver who’s a great asset to the team.

“I should add that he also did a very good job over the winter working on the correlation between the simulator and the racetrack.”

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Norris surprised by his and McLaren’s development

Lando Norris has said he’s been surprised by how quickly both he and McLaren have developed this season.

The team have firmly established themselves as the best of the rest, sitting comfortably in P4 in the Constructors’ standings.

“I don’t think we thought we would be as… I don’t think we are still completely the fourth-fastest car, but I think the team are doing a very good job,” said Norris to Motorsportweek.com.

“The pit stops, the starts, all areas that we weren’t so good in last year, they’ve improved a lot for this year, and we’re generally better than a lot of the teams.

“That side has been much stronger, and that has helped us be as good as we are in terms of the Constructors’ and so on, it’s got us a lot of points, so a big thanks to all of the guys for working on those areas. It’s been a big help.”

Despite trailing team-mate Sainz in the standings, Norris has impressed in his rookie season nonetheless, leading the Spaniard in qualifying head to head and finishing as high as P6.

“From my side, I didn’t think I’d be as confident as I am now in this part of the season already, or halfway through”, Norris added.

“From how nervous I was at the beginning of the season in Australia, I’m a lot more confident, a lot more knowledgeable I think, with what I need to do and not do and so on with what I need to do and not do and so on. We’re getting there.”

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Sainz: McLaren’s main aim is to prepare for 2020

Carlos Sainz has said him and his team’s main aim for the second half of this season is to prepare the car for 2020.

The Spaniard has had an excellent season, sitting comfortably as the best of the rest in the driver’s standings, 27 points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Despite dominating the midfield though, Sainz doesn’t believe McLaren will be able to challenge the top three teams in the second half of the season, and should instead look ahead to 2020.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to break out of the midfield in the second half of the season. We might bring a few tenths to the car which would be great, but everyone is going to bring them, so we need to be careful,” he said to Crash.net.

 “What we need to make sure is that we learn the right steps to do on the car this year, and learn them from next year. I think that’s the main target for the second half of the season, learn about this car to make sure we put all the things in the right place for next year’s car.”
Sainz was rejected by Red Bull in favour of Pierre Gasly this season, but has been performing considerably better than the Frenchman.
Despite being just five points behind though, the McLaren driver played down his chances of beating him.
“I don’t think that’s going to last much, unfortunately, but it just shows how well we’re doing at the moment and how consistent we are since Baku,” Sainz said. “I don’t know how many points I’ve got, but it’s been incredible.

“The first three races, we were very unlucky, things didn’t come together, but since Baku the hard work over the winter, the hard work that I spend in the factory in Woking, it’s just paying off a lot.

“We keep performing every weekend with great strategy, great pit stops, good on Sundays, and that’s how it should be and what we need to keep doing.”

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Scruffy but effective Q3 performance for Norris

Lando Norris was frustrated by a scruffy final Q3 lap in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, despite it earning him P7.

The Brit will be joined on the fourth row of the grid by team-mate Carlos Sainz as McLaren resumed their best-of-the-rest status in qualifying, but he couldn’t quite allow himself to be satisfied following a few mishaps.

“I’ve been pretty comfortable in the car all weekend the majority of the time,” he told reporters.

“We found a set-up which maybe ultimately wasn’t the quickest, but I was just very comfortable in it and consistent so when it came to qualifying I could always make small improvements which is the thing that counts in the end.

“I almost managed to put the lap together, I’m not trying to be downbeat or anything, I am very happy with P7 and P8 for us as a team, But I ran wide out of the last corner, then I pulled DRS too early and it didn’t open, because it was too early, so there was a bit more in it.

“But in terms of lap time I don’t think we could have beaten [Pierre] Gasly, so it was a good result especially since here it’s hard to overtake, I look forward to tomorrow.”

Norris hopes to use the tight and technical Hungaroring to his advantage and make progress up the field in the race, but he knows a good start is crucial.

“We did some longer running on Friday, mine looked pretty reasonable, I think maybe we have a chance of beating some of the cars ahead of us, not on pure pace but more if we get a good start, because it’s difficult to overtake – we can maybe keep them behind better than on other tracks,” he explained.

“I just need to make sure I get a good start, have a good strategy and see how it plays out, but normally we’re reasonably good in the race.”

Sainz contradicted his team-mate in the belief that he only lost out to Norris by “half a tenth” in their qualifying battle because he produced a “perfect lap”.

“Definitely happy, not 100% but I think the way Lando drove today, when you are just half a tenth off and he has done a perfect lap, it’s easier to admit it and accept defeat in that way,” said the Spaniard.

“Congrats to him, to the team, because it’s been great to see that at a low-speed track the McLaren is also working decently and we are best-of-the-rest after a couple of races behind a Haas or an Alfa [Romeo] in qualifying.”

McLaren had been worried coming into the event that their performance deficit in slow-speed corners would hurt them badly.

But, that hasn’t been the case and Sainz is happy that it worked out that way.

“Yes, we were definitely worried and honestly the balance was not there, but today we have done the right steps and today we were in a better window,” he stated.

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Sainz spin came after deliberately going off

Carlos Sainz Jr has said he was left feeling “stupid” after his spin in Germany came after deliberately going off the track at Turn 15.

The corner caught many drivers out in treacherous conditions at the Hockenheimring, with Sainz himself thinking that he could actually find more grip away from the turn altogether.

That would prove to be a very unwise decision after effectively putting his McLaren car onto a skating rink, causing him to spin and lose valuable time.

“I actually went wide on purpose,” Sainz said via Racefans.Net.

“I missed the corner saying ‘I’m going to miss the corner on purpose, just going to go wide and come back’. Then suddenly found this un-grippy surface.

“That’s why I was so frustrated on the radio because I felt stupid. I could have easily made the corner.

“I didn’t commit to the corner just to not lose time by trying to keep it tight. And I missed 35 seconds of race time by doing that.

“So I think the frustration from the driver there comes by actually thinking there’s going to be grip and it’s not. So next time we will know and we will not go there.”

All was not lost, though, for Sainz who would go on to recover and finish P5 in Germany.

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Sainz denied by rivals’ ‘risky decision’

A mere 1.3s shy of the podium, Carlos Sainz reckons he was denied by rivals’ “risky decisions” at the German Grand Prix.

Formula 1 arrived on the Hockenheimring grid to the welcome sight of rain, at least it was welcomed by the fans.

It led to a chaotic race in which most drivers pitted four times, swapping wets for inters and inters for slicks only to have to go back onto Pirelli’s wet-weather tyres.

But as the conditions changed again in the final 10 laps, Toro Rosso and Racing Point were two of the first teams to bring their drivers – Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll – in for a final change onto slick tyres.

The rest of the field followed suit but the early swap had given Kvyat and Stroll too much of an advantage. The finished ahead of Sainz with Kvyat taking the final podium position.

“Every decision that we do probably was the right one,” said Sainz. “In the end we lost out on a podium because of two cars with nothing to lose.

“They pitted for slicks and benefited from that. When you don’t see the Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari pitting you say, we are P5 we are crazy if we pit now and we miss this.

“We were very close to pitting and that would’ve given us a podium place but in the end it was wise that we didn’t but the others benefited from the risky decision.”

Sunday’s grand prix was the first wet race of this season with Sainz, who started P7 but lost ground when he spun, admitting he struggled in the wet.

“Honestly, I was not really comfortable with the conditions,” he said.

“We were running a smaller rear ring than the rest of our competitors and we struggled to warm up our tyres. When you got into a rhythm it was fine but just the restarts we struggled.

“That spin cost me, but in the end we were the only car not to pit for slicks halfway though the race as it started to rain again to it was a good call that gave us back the position.”

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