Coming off a less than desirable result in Mexico, McLaren are aiming for increased performance across both cars at the Brazilian GP.
The Brazilian GP is one of the most iconic and popular tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. Racing returns there this weekend after missing 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
McLaren have a long history of success at the track with a total of 12 wins, more than any other constructor on the grid. Lewis Hamilton won his first World Championship title at the circuit in 2008, and Ayrton Senna’s 1991 win is one of the most revered in F1 folklore.
Although the last time the Woking-based team took first place was with Jenson Button back in 2012, Carlos Sainz did manage to claim third place on the podium during the 2019 season. The team’s first podium finish in five years.
The Brazilian GP will see the third and final Sprint qualifying format for the year, with FP2 dropped in favour of qualifying for the Sprint itself. As always, the results from the Sprint will dictate the grid for Sunday’s race.
After scraping by with one point from the Mexican GP, McLaren have lost third place in the Constructors’ Championship to their Ferrari rivals. The Scuderia now hold a 13.5-point lead, something McLaren will be hoping to reduce this coming Sunday.
While the Brazilian GP should provide the team with a better chance of scoring a decent hauls of points, there are no guarantees in F1. Interlagos does have more sections of track that the MCL35M should be less squeamish on, however, the middle sector is filled with tight twists and turns.
McLaren will need to have both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo running on the same sheet. With McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl mentioning the need for consistency across both cars.
“We head to Brazil this week with the chance to bounce straight back from our result in Mexico,” Seidl said. “It’s great to be returning to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo after two years. The track is one of the most historic on the Formula 1 calendar. Our last visit to Brazil holds fond memories for the team as we secured our first podium since 2014.
“However, it’s important we continue to stay focused during this intense triple-header and deliver to the best of our abilities to score good points. The circuit is not without its challenges with a high altitude similar to Mexico, constant elevation changes and unpredictable weather that will make things interesting.
“We’re looking forward to using the sprint qualifying format this weekend for the third and final time this season. The new format has provided excitement on the track for the fans while presenting teams with more opportunities from the very start of the weekend. The aim will be to find a good level of consistency with both cars from the first session to achieve the best result possible.”
After starting from seventh in Mexico, a dive down into Turn 1 on the opening lap effectively ended Ricciardo’s race. Hitting the back of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas resulted in the front wing being torn off, along with other structural damage to the car, sending the Australian to the back of the field.
Ricciardo will be looking for redemption at Brazil, aiming to replenish those lost points from Mexico. He has been on a points scoring spree since the return from the summer break, outscoring teammate Norris, after taking a backseat for the first half of the season.
McLaren have enjoyed relative success under the Sprint qualifying format, with Ricciardo’s Monza result landing him on the front row and ultimately on to victory. They will need to replicate this success in order to try and stay ahead of, or as close as possible, to Ferrari on the grid.
“I’m looking forward to heading back to Brazil for another sprint weekend, these weekends have been kind to us so far this year, so we’ll head into the weekend with positivity,” Ricciardo said. “After the result last weekend, we can only really look forward. Luckily we have the opportunity to fight back almost immediately with this triple-header of races.
“I didn’t take home any points in Mexico, but the outcome could’ve been very different if we’d just had a few more centimetres, which proves we have the car to fight for good positions and decent points. There’s definitely some optimism coming off the back of last weekend. My focus is now on scoring points in a few days’ time, so we’ll keep at it. The team is hungry, determined and we’ll keep on going right to the final lap of the season.”