McLaren are aiming to improve their qualifying results, leading to an ‘easier’ race day on Sunday for the team.
McLaren have carried over their good form from 2020 into the current Formula 1 season. Currently sitting third in the Constructors’ Championship behind Mercedes and Red Bull, the Woking-based team jumped to an early lead over their midfield competitors.
So far, they are the only team to have both drivers land in the points on race weekend. However, while drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have continued bringing in the points, Ferrari have slowly been reeling them in.
After a slower start to the year, the Scuderia now sit just five points shy of McLaren. With the pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz managing to bring in more points over the last two races.
One of the reasons for Ferrari closing the gap, can be attributed to the inconsistencies with McLaren and their qualifying performance.
The past two weeks have seen McLaren struggle during practice with the balance and setup of the MCL35M. Heading into qualifying with uncertainties surrounding the car. Even so, for the most part, Norris and Ricciardo have put down decent times during Q1 and Q2.
Where things appear to be coming unstuck is Q3. Norris has topped the timesheets on several occasions during the preceding qualifying sessions, however, has failed to replicate that result in the final session. Due to either the smallest margins of track limits, or tyre degradation.
While teammate Ricciardo has been more up and down throughout the course of the season on race day, he maintains a winning record against Norris on Saturday. Leading the two in qualifying results.
McLaren know the MCL35M has the potential to qualify higher
McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl acknowledged the need for the team to pull together during qualifying. Mentioning that race day would be that much easier, should the cars actually be starting on the grid where they have the potential to.
“If you look at this race weekend, I think we simply have to accept that Ferrari was strong in the race, but if you look at the whole season I think it is clear we need to try to finish higher up on Saturdays,” Seidl said.
“Because in the end it makes your life on Sunday so much easier if you do your stints in free air without pressure behind, which we managed in some races already this year because of having a good start or a good first lap.
“And it brought us back to the position where we wanted to be already on Saturday in qualifying.
“It’s clear, that’s the goal. We want to finish higher up on Saturdays, in the end you want to finish on Saturday where potential of the car is.”
It goes without saying that the higher you qualify, generally, the easier your race is going to be on Sunday. Achieving a good qualifying result negates the effort required to move through the pack, back to where you should have been starting in the first place.
The upcoming Monaco Grand Prix is an even more difficult track to overtake at than last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. With very limited opportunities to gain an advantage around the circuit, Norris and Ricciardo will need all their focus to achieve the highest grid position possible for the race.