F1 constructors’ standings: Ferrari close gap to McLaren to 3.5 points

F1 constructors’ standings: Ferrari close gap to McLaren to 3.5 points

The 2021 F1 constructors’ standings are heating up, with Ferrari closing the gap to McLaren to just 3.5 points after the United States GP.

The battle between McLaren and Ferrari in the F1 constructors’ standings continued to rage at the United Stated Grand Prix. All four drivers managed to finish inside the points, with the Scuderia now trailing McLaren by just 3.5 points.

Ferrari appeared to have the upper hand over McLaren during qualifying, with the SF21 the faster of the two cars. This was all but confirmed during the race itself, with Charles Leclerc finishing 24.5 seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo, however, did well to hold off Carlos Sainz and finish two places ahead of the Spaniard. The pair tussled during the early stages of the race, and again during the closing stages. Ricciardo’s aggressive defence, which included a brief tyre rub, proved to be enough to hold off the charging Sainz.

“I’m really happy. We weren’t quicker than the Ferraris, so I’m happy to beat one of them,” Ricciardo said. “I had to defend pretty hard for a few laps there, so I’m happy to have held him off. It was a tricky race. I was fighting quite a bit to hold what I had, but I think on paper fifth is really good. It’s good points.

“We stole a little bit from Carlos [Sainz], and Valtteri [Bottas] got him at the end, so that was a bit of damage limitation. We’ll come back in Mexico and hopefully have a bit more to show against them.”

Each place in the F1 constructors’ standings is vitally important when it comes to divvying up the prize money at the conclusion of the season. Finishing just one place higher could mean the difference between receiving an extra few million dollars.

The race to third place came down to the wire in 2020, with McLaren beating out Racing Point in the very last race of the year to claim ‘best of the rest’. Given the close proximity between McLaren and Ferrari at present, it is highly likely the claim for third place will again come down to the final one or two races. Unless some unforeseen event occurs, which so often does in F1.

With the pace Ferrari showed in the US, McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl was happy the team managed to secure some much-needed points to stay ahead in the fight for third.

“P5 and P8 today here at COTA was pretty much everything that was on the table,” Seidl said. “We were fighting a very strong Ferrari team this weekend and did well to get ahead of at least one of them and retain P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.

“A strong race for Daniel today, getting past Carlos [Sainz] on the first lap and then soaking up enormous pressure all the way to the flag. With Lando not making up any positions at the beginning of the race, it became a difficult one for him, but he stayed right there in the hunt all the way to the line.”

Given the extra power Ferrari seem to have found during the second half of the season, plus the vastly different handling characteristics of the MCL35M and the SF21, the balance of power between the two competing rivals are likely to change from track to track.

Heading to the Mexican Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time, both teams will be looking to capitalise on any advantage possible to leap ahead of the other.