Thursday, February 11, 2021

1 Racing Mind’s Formula 1 Season Ending Team Report Card: McLaren Racing

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/ LAT Images/ Pirelli

Team Grade: A-

Overall Season: 

During the 2019 season, McLaren Racing was seen as on the road to recovering much of its historical reputation for being a contender in Formula 1. The 2020 Formula 1 season was another step forward to once-again asserting itself as a podium-fighting squad. Drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. each grabbed a podium result with McLaren in 2020 with their Renault powered machines. Overcoming reported financial concerns caused due to the Coronavirus pandemic, McLaren Racing’s reward was a third place finish in the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship following an aggressive fight with Racing Point and the Renault F1 Team for the honour.   


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

The McLaren Racing organization has made a clear and concerted effort in recapturing much of its past glory after struggling through the midpoint of the 2010s. This year, the Woking-based race team was a solid point finisher with both drivers. The Russian Grand Prix was the only instant in 2020 where the team left a race weekend without scoring a top 10 finish. The McLaren Racing team also pulled together a great deal of consistency in the last remaining races that contributed greatly to their third place in the constructors’ standings for 2020. In the final five grand prix events, both cars finished in point-scoring positions.

The Renault-powered MCL35 also proved to be a pretty quick machine over the course of the year. On three occasions during the 2020 Formula 1 season, McLaren team cars captured the fastest lap of the race. 

Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

For the team in general, the 2020 Russian Grand Prix could be seen as their most disappointing outing. In the only race where McLaren Racing failed to score points, Carlos Sainz Jr. crashed on the opening lap overshooting the second turn on the Sochi track and hit the wall after failing to rejoin the circuit. Lando Norris continued through the event attempting to push the hard compound Pirelli tires he received on lap 1 to the 53-lap distance of the Russian Grand Prix. In the last laps of the event, the #4 McLaren race car had difficulty maintaining the pace to retain a top 10 finish and ultimately needed to make a late pit stop coming across the line in 15th place.  

Another unfortunate moment for the McLaren Racing team came at the Belgian Grand Prix. Before the start of the race on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the power unit of the #55 machine of Carlos Sainz Jr. refused to engage. Sainz had qualified in seventh place for the weekend’s main event.

Team's Drivers

#4 Lando Norris: B+

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/ LAT Images/ Pirelli

Overall Season: 

Lando Norris entered his second season in Formula 1 returning to McLaren Racing in 2020 and the 21-year-old continued to show talent and some blossoming expertise behind the wheel. In the opening round of this season at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, he scored his first career podium result. Despite the shortened season, Norris racked up almost twice the amount of points in the season-long championship compared to 2019. 

Achievements During 2020 Season: 

Lando Norris enjoyed a very consistent season with the McLaren Racing team failing only to finish one event on the entire 17-race calender. The biggest achievement in his young Formula 1 career occurred at the Red Bull Ring. A track where Lando Norris had tied his season-best result in his rookie year, the Austrian circuit hosted his first series podium finish after Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton was issued a five-second penalty. Norris crossed the line in fourth but was 4.8 seconds behind Mercedes elevating him to his new career-best finish. In many events, Norris mirrored the efforts of his more veteran teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. ending the 2020 season with a qualifying average almost identical to the Spaniard. However, Norris bettered his now-former McLaren teammate by taking the extra championship point for fastest lap in two grand prix events compared to Sainz’s one.

Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

Lando Norris’ efforts behind the wheel of a Formula 1 in 2020 were nowhere near as rage-filled as some of his Twitch game play streams. For a sophomore season in the top open wheel racing series on the planet, Lando Norris enjoyed a quiet yet successful campaign that did not contain too many major moments of failure. Missing the points on four occasions in the season, three of those times came in consecutive races. The Russian Grand Prix was due to Norris losing on the team’s gamble with hard compound tires, the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring ended with a power unit issue (his only DNF of the 2020 season) and the Portuguese Grand Prix’s 13th place finish was a result of a collision between him and the Racing Point car of Lance Stroll.

#55 Carlos Sainz Jr.: B+

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/ LAT Images/ Pirelli

Overall Season: 

Finishing in sixth place in the 2020 Formula 1 Worlds Drivers’ Championship points standings, Carlos Sainz Jr. had one of the best years in his professional career. A driver in the series since 2015, Sainz entered his second year with McLaren Racing in 2020 achieving several career firsts. At the Styrian Grand Prix held on the Red Bull Ring, the driver of the #55 race car set the fastest lap that was also a lap record for the present configuration of the track. Later in the year, Sainz obtained a runner-up finish at the Italian Grand Prix on the Monza circuit. One-half of the driving team that contributed to McLaren’s third place in the Constructors’ Championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. is taking his talent to Scuderia Ferrari. 

Achievements During 2020 Season: 

The Styrian Grand Prix was one of two showcase events for the Spanish driver’s 2020 Formula 1 campaign. Falling short in the race finishing in ninth, Carlos Sainz Jr.’s outing in Austria was one where the #55 car qualified a strong 3rd place in wet weather and posted the fastest lap on Sunday. However, the highlight of Sainz’s 2020 season (and Formula 1 career so far) has been the Italian Grand Prix. Placing himself in a position to pounce when the majority of traditional frontrunners were out of contention, Sainz and McLaren had a chance at victory. After pursuing eventual winner Pierre Gasly closely in the late laps, Carlos Sainz Jr. earned his second career podium finish and first time as the runner-up driver. Through 17 rounds of the 2020 Formula 1 tour, the Spaniard earned his season-best championship tally of 105 points.   

Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

Carlos Sainz Jr.’s best Formula 1 finish to date came in a middle of an unlucky streak of grand prix events. Prior to the Italian Grand Prix, Sainz was sidelined in the Belgian Grand Prix when his car’s power unit failed before the start of the event. In the two races following Monza, the #55 McLaren suffered early race retirements. At the Tuscan Grand Prix on the Mugello track, Sainz first suffered damage to his car in the opening lap. He would later be caught up in a multiple car crash following a safety car period on lap five. The following event in Russia had Carlos Sainz Jr. crashing on the opening lap after unsuccessfully attempting to rejoin the track through a run-off area. 

No comments:

Post a Comment