With the 2021 Formula 1 season still a couple of months away, we take a look at three reasons McLaren fans can get excited for the upcoming year.
The 2020 F1 season saw a dramatic rise for McLaren in the constructors’ standings, securing third place. Their best result since 2012.
After several years of sub-par performance, McLaren looked to be back on the rise. With two quality drivers and a competitive car yielding great results. Something the team will be looking to carry over into the new season.
2021 will see some new changes for McLaren. Both in personnel and with the new MCL35M. So just what exactly is there to get excited about?
The arrival of Mercedes power
The recent Honda years are years that everyone would like to forget. Looking to reignite the success they enjoyed during the Ayrton Senna years when Honda was an F1 powerhouse, McLaren and Honda were unable to revamp the partnership. With poor performance dragging the once great team down.
The move to a Renault power unit proved to be more fruitful, with McLaren enjoying two productive seasons. Fielding their most competitive cars of recent times and more importantly, finishing on the podium on more than one occasion. And while Renault was a step up, reliability issues would continue to become a problem from time-to-time. Often at the expense of points finishes.
Jump forward to 2021 and we will see the MCL35M driven under the power of Mercedes. A brand new power unit that will bring with it not only increased reliability, but also power. An aspect that depending on the track, McLaren has lacked at times.
The partnership with Mercedes should see a fairly competitive car for 2021 and beyond.
New McLaren teammates in the house
After chasing Daniel Ricciardo for the past few seasons, the Australian is finally inbound for Woking. Ricciardo and Lando Norris have shared a playful banter since Norris’ introduction to F1 in 2019.
And, after enjoying a close personal and working relationship with former teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr. It is hoped the same can be said for the new pairing.
“The most important thing from my point of view is that we preserve the conditions that we created to allow that high level of collaboration between Carlos and Lando,” Racing Director Andrea Stella said. “But it’s not just about preserving those conditions, we may have to adapt them. Daniel is not Carlos and his relationship with Lando will be different. It may be similar, but it will not be the same and we need to be mindful of that and adapt with a view to maintain the standards.”
While the success McLaren enjoyed under Sainz cannot be denied, Ricciardo brings with him grand prix wins and the experience of working in a top F1 team, Red Bull. His presence will no doubt be beneficial to the future progress the team will hope to make.
“He arrives as a proven race winner and is someone who can go toe to toe with the very best drivers,” said F1 Technical Director James Key. “Daniel is very easy to get on with, but he’s hugely determined and that has a positive effect on any team. He will be a great reference point for us and, together with Lando, we will have one of the strongest driver pairings in the paddock.”
Lando Norris stepping up the competition
Since first entering the F1 scene as a rookie in 2019, Norris has been on the up and up. After a somewhat slow and cautious start to 2019, his sophomore year was filled with excitement and growth.
A far more aggressive on track approach saw Norris compete with the top end of the field, scoring his first F1 podium finish at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Close competition with former teammate Sainz, pushed Norris throughout the course of both seasons he spent with Spaniard. And there was not much to split the two, despite Sainz outscoring Norris in the drivers’ standings over consecutive years.
With further experience onboard and the likelihood of not wanting to be shown up by Ricciardo, expect Norris to be firing on all cylinders come the opening round at Bahrain.