McLaren are looking to open up the gap to Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship during this weekend’s Hungarian GP.
Sunday’s Hungarian GP will provide the opportunity for teams to chalk up their last points before Formula 1 heads into the mid-year summer break. And unlike past recent seasons, there is competition between four different constructors. All fighting for various positions across the top of the points table.
Red Bull and Mercedes continue to slog it out for the top spot, with Mercedes closing the gap after Max Verstappen’s exit at the British Grand Prix. While McLaren and Ferrari have been battling for much of the year, as the old rivals both try and lockdown third place in the standings.
While McLaren have held the edge over the Scuderia, the Hungaroring is a track that will likely benefit Ferrari more so than it does the Woking-based team. The MCL35M has generally performed well across different styles of racing tracks. However, it is best suited to more high-speed circuits where straight line speed is able to be utilised.
Whereas tracks that have more twists and turns with low speed corners have been where the Ferrari’s have really outshone much of the field, including Red Bull and Mercedes at times.
With this weekend the last opportunity to score some points prior to heading into the summer break, McLaren will need to ensure they put on a strong performance to beat out Ferrari.
“The Hungaroring presents the team with an interesting challenge compared to the relatively high-speed tracks of Austria and Silverstone,” Seidl said. “With high downforce levels and a tight, twisting layout, it’s no surprise many often describe the circuit as Monaco without the walls.
“The team, along with Lando [Norris] and Daniel [Ricciardo] have done a fantastic job so far to put us in this position in the Constructors’ Championship, but we know the fight is far from over, and momentum could shift away from us with a single difficult weekend. The challenges posed by the Hungaroring may not suit our car as much other circuits on the calendar, but much of the fight for third this year will be decided by how well we perform at tracks that don’t naturally play to our strengths.
“As always, the aim is to score a good haul of points and keep pushing for the highest possible position in the Constructors’ Championship. The team will be giving it all this weekend before we have a chance to regroup and recharge over the summer break.”
One thing that will play to McLaren’s advantage in overcoming the challenge from Ferrari will be their ability to qualify strongly on Saturday. Lando Norris has managed to not only qualify, but also finish inside the top five through much of the season. While teammate Daniel Ricciardo has more often than not found himself starting from outside the top ten and having to work his way through the field.
However, there seems to be somewhat of an improvement and confidence boost with Ricciardo over the last several races. With his best qualifying and race results with McLaren to date. That momentum he has been enjoying needs to be carried over into the Hungarian GP.
If Ricciardo is able to qualify closely to, or even higher than Norris, the return of the Australian to his top form will be that much closer.
“I can’t wait to go to Budapest, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the calendar and a race that I’ve won in the past as well,” Ricciardo said. “It’s a very tight and technical circuit with high levels of downforce required on the car, but that just adds to the challenge and excitement for me, it’s a real driver’s track.
“It’s a circuit where overtaking can be difficult, so we’ll be working hard to maximise our performance on Saturday, which should line us up for a slightly easier Sunday. As always, we’ll keep working hard to score as many points as we can and keep pushing in the Constructors’ Championship.”
Meanwhile, Norris will be looking to keep pushing with the best form he has shown in his F1 career. Currently sitting third in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, the young Brit has really propelled McLaren up the ladder in 2021.
If not for the performances from Norris throughout the season, McLaren would find themselves languishing far behind Ferrari at this point. If he is able to continue his good form, with some luck along the way, there is no reason why Norris might not be fighting for third in the championship come the end of the year.
“We’ve had a good start to the season so far, and we’ll be aiming to finish the first half of the year on a high, before a break over the summer shutdown,” said Norris. “The Hungaroring can be a tricky circuit to get right, and we know that it’ll be a challenge to outperform our closest rivals in the Constructors’ Championship. But we’ll be giving it everything to continue building that gap and set ourselves up for a strong second half of the season.”