2019 F1 season team review: McLaren
Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing the performance of each team over the course of the 2019 Formula 1 season, and in this article we are looking at McLaren
What a contrast 2019 has been for McLaren in comparison to the year before. The team morale is now at an all-time high and the Woking based squad have put together the performances to go with it.
The addition of Andreas Seidl, as well as Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris as drivers, has had a huge impact on the atmosphere at McLaren and the team are firing on all cylinders once again.
The most improved team in 2019, McLaren ended the season as best of the rest, with some great race performances, including the team’s first podium since 2014 at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
It’s good to see the team bouncing back an heading back to the front of the grid, where they belong, and the form from both Sainz and Norris have been brilliant.
Norris still needs to be more aggressive in race battles, when wheel to wheel, but he has driven like a seasoned pro, and it is easy to forget that this is only his first season in F1.
Sainz has really stepped up a gear since moving to McLaren, and is excelling in his lead driver role, and has arguably been one of the drivers of the season.
It is a great foundation for 2020, but the team now need to take their performances to an even higher level if they are to take the fight to the top three when F1 gets back underway in March.
What a year it has been for Sainz! His form has been one of the most consistent on the grid, second only to his former team-mate, Max Verstappen, and it has proven that his move to McLaren was the right one to make.
He had a tricky first few opening races with the Woking based squad, but followed it up with a run of eight points finishes in nine races, and topped off some excellent performances at the British Grand Prix and German Grand Prix, with a podium finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, after finishing third, having started the race from last.
His time at Renault dropped Sainz out of the spotlight, but he has grabbed back a lot of attention with his form during the course of the season, and ended up as best of the rest after a last gasp move on Nico Hulkenberg for 10th place on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With a season like that, Sainz is definitely one to watch in 2020, and many teams will have their eyes on him as they weigh up their driver line-ups for 2021.
2019 was a great rookie year for Norris, with the 20-year-old instantly integrating himself into the F1 world.
He has shown that he is no pushover, and in the first half of the season, he was regularly faster than Carlos Sainz over one lap.
His main weakness has been wheel-to-wheel battles during races, but this is definitely an area he is capable of working on, and it won’t take much for him to get on top of this.
Understandably, Norris was being too cautious as a result of not wanting to cause a crash, but in order to gain the respect he needs to hold firm. McLaren accepted this and encouraged Norris to remain firm in the latter half of the year, and confirmed that if he crashed, he crashed.
It’s a great ethos from McLaren, as it helps Norris build up the confidence to a height where he is not afraid to make mistakes, and this will no doubt hold him in good stead for next year.
Sainz had the edge on Norris throughout the second half of the season, but finishing 11th in the championship in his debut year is no disgrace for Norris, and it will be interesting to see his rate of improvement in 2020.