British GP: McLaren look to carry ‘energy’ forward in Silverstone home race

British GP: McLaren look to carry ‘energy’ forward in Silverstone home race

McLaren are looking forward to keeping the momentum going and welcoming fans back to their home race at the British GP, Silverstone.

This year’s British GP will see a return of fans to the circuit, after Covid-19 resulted in the double-header at Silverstone running behind closed doors last year.

One of several teams to base themselves out of the UK, McLaren are keen to get back to the track in what will be their home race for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

As well as welcoming the return of fans, the Woking-based team will look to continue their forward momentum going. With their Constructors’ Championship battle for third place raging on with Ferrari.

McLaren currently sit just 19 points ahead of the Scuderia in the standings. And, while the team have acknowledged the differences the track at Silverstone holds, they are looking to keep the good ‘energy’ going.

“Being on the podium for the third time this season was a great feeling,” Lando Norris said. “It was a well-deserved result for all the hard work the entire team has put in so far this year and during an intense triple-header. Hopefully, we can carry this energy into mine and the team’s home grand prix this weekend, although we need to be realistic in what we can achieve as Silverstone is a very different track. That being said, we’ll still be trying our hardest to score as many points as possible.

“Racing at Silverstone is always a special occasion with it being my home race. Welcoming back the British fans – in the safest way possible – will be amazing to see. I’ve missed them a lot especially doing two races there last year behind closed doors. Seeing the grandstands full and everything feeling a bit more normal is something I’m really looking forward to.

“We also have the first sprint qualifying event of the season. We’ll be straight into the action on Friday with qualifying before the sprint on Saturday, so we’ll be prepared to hit the ground running.”

This weekend will see the first of three planned sprint races go ahead. As F1 look to trial the new format in an attempt to spice things up over what is usually a three day event.

Qualifying for the sprint race will go ahead on Friday, prior to the drivers taking to the track on Saturday. The results of Saturday’s sprint race will then go on to determining the grid line up for the main race held on Sunday.

While Daniel Ricciardo has struggled during qualifying for a large part of the season, he has generally been able to make up several positions during the early stages of the race.  The new sprint format, which Ricciardo says will be an ‘exciting challenge’, may just play into his hands. Setting him up for a better starting grid position on the Sunday.

“This weekend sees us heading to Silverstone for the team’s home race,” said Ricciardo. “It’s going to be a special moment for us all as we get to see the fans back in those grandstands – it’s been a long time coming. We’ve slowly seen more and more fans back at track as the season has progressed and when it’s been safe to do so in certain countries. I think everyone has missed the noise and atmosphere that only the fans can provide.

“At the British Grand Prix we’ll try out the new sprint quali format for the first time, which will be an exciting challenge. It’ll be interesting to mix up the weekend and I’m sure it’ll provide plenty of opportunities to put us in a good position for the race on Sunday.”

Despite McLaren’s quite visible improvement over the past three F1 seasons, Team Principal Andreas Seidl has continued to reinforce the need to stay realistic surrounding the team’s actual performance capabilities.

While McLaren are able to challenge the top teams of Mercedes and Red Bull at certain tracks, and for short periods of time. They are still a long way off from fighting for the top one or two places in the Constructors’ Championship.

Coming off the back of Norris’ third podium finish for the year, Seidl has again emphasised that while he expects the team to continue taking further steps forward with their performance, there is still the need to remember what is achievable.

“We’ve taken the time to reset as a team after the strong result in Austria and we’re ready to go again in the fight for good points,” Seidl said. “We’re continuing to take steps forward in terms of performance by extracting the most out of our package, but we need to remain realistic about what’s achievable, stay focused and take each race at a time as we progress through the season.

“This weekend will also see the first sprint qualifying session of the year take place. We’re looking forwarding to trialling the new Saturday sprint format as we continue to see the sport develop and encourage closer and exciting racing for the fans.

“The team has been working hard in preparation for the change to how we run a usual race weekend, with qualifying now being on Friday and a sprint race on Saturday. The format will certainly mix things up for everyone and every team will be looking to capitalise on any opportunities.”