Sunday, September 27, 2020

1 Racing Mind’s 2020 Formula 1 Mid-Season Team Report Card: McLaren Racing


Photo Credit: Andy Hone LAT Images/Pirelli

Team Grade: A-

Driver’s Grade:

Carlos Sainz Jr.: B+

Lando Norris: A-

Summary of First Nine Races:

During the 1980s and a portion of the 1990s, McLaren and Williams were among two of the top teams in Formula 1. In the modern auto racing world championship, both constructors have been striding for more modest goals in recent years. Because of the massive global pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Williams as well as McLaren reportedly faced great battles off the track. Prior to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix due to the surging spread of COVID-19, McLaren had withdrawn from the weekend when a member of their crew tested positive for the virus. Later, as the financial burden of a delayed Formula 1 season weighed on McLaren, a partial sale of the Formula 1 team was considered to raise extra capital. A combination of a bank loan and new sponsorship partners including Gulf oil lubricants has given the organization a lifeline. 

The McLaren Racing team’s survival of a potential financial crunch was quickly rewarded. In the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, the driver of the #4 McLaren Lando Norris posted a podium result of third place as well as the fastest lap of the race. After nine races, Norris scored points in all events except the Hungarian Grand Prix with his consistency placing him currently in fourth among drivers in the 2020 Drivers’ Championship. 

McLaren Racing’s Carlos Sainz Jr. has endured more of a roller coaster year than his teammate but has also been involved in some big moments. Although Sainz has qualified third on two occasions and posted the fastest lap at the Styrian Grand Prix, finishes have been less consistent for the Spaniard. In 2020, Sainz also delivered his career-best race performance at the Italian Grand Prix with a runner-up finish and narrowly missed scoring McLaren its first victory since 2012. 

Competing with the MCL35 chassis with Renault power units, McLaren Racing is regularly running alongside or in front of the factory Renault F1 Team. Only one retirement due to a mechanical issue has been recorded by the 2020 car caused at the Belgian Grand Prix where an exhaust problem prevented Carlos Sainz Jr.’s vehicle from starting ahead of Sunday’s race.

Prediction for Rest of the 2020 Season:

This year’s McLaren Racing team has been a regular contender for the top five in the running order. Under the right racing conditions (specifically with some faltering of Mercedes and Red Bull Racing team cars), Lando Norris and/or Carlos Sainz Jr. may likely be a podium challenger within at least one of the remaining events.

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