In what was McLarens best season in recent memory McLaren were still unable to finish 3rd in the Constructors championship after a late surge from Ferrari and some unfortunate races for both Lando and Danny Ric down the stretch saw a commanding lead evaporate and see us yet again finish 4th. But with the new regulations coming in with the 2022 car, everyone is seemingly starting on equal footing, although some teams obviously still have a financial advantage.
Andreas Seidl returns as Team Principal and both Daniel and Lando’s race engineers return for the 2022 season. Consistency on race day is key and having Will Joseph for Lando and Tom Stallard for Danny Ric returning will be crucial to helping set the car up not just on race weekend but during the 2 preseason test weekends in February and March. Not to mention the calming voice and chemistry you can create between driver and engineer, especially when it comes to the banter between Lando and Will.
But one of McLarens biggest issues last year was Danny Ric’s slow start and trouble he had getting used to how to drive the car. This new car is brand new. Everyone is on the same level when it comes to the feel of the car, and the 95 laps he did on test day one in Abu Dhabi will hopefully have given him a lot of experience getting a feel for how the car drives. If DR3 can come out at the next test day at Barcelona in late February and hit the ground running. Back that up with the 2nd pre-season test weekend in Bahrain the weekend before the first GP in Bahrain, then I think it will be a huge marker for where not just Danny Ric but the whole team will be at for the start of the season.
On the other side of the garage, we have Lando Norris. For me a sure thing to one day win a Drivers championship and hopefully it will be in a McLaren. Obviously, he was our better driver last year. While Danny Ric got the teams only win and first win for over 8 years, Lando was easily our most consistent driver. Had it not been for a poor pit strategy decision which he has completely owned as being his fault he also would’ve grabbed his first win in Russia. He finished the season with 4 podiums and full bag of 4ths and 5th and only 1 DNF. Just hearing how hard Lando took the bungle in Russia shows me how much getting his first win for McLaren and in his career means to him.
Unfortunately for both drivers, the form slip towards the back end of the season coinciding with Sainz stepping up his consistency for Ferrari would see our gap to Ferrari for third shrink and eventually have Ferrari finishing in 3rd and McLaren slipping back to 4th after a 3rd place finish in 2020. What we need to focus more on as McLaren fans is the improvement year in year out over the past 3 seasons. We’ve gone from a team where former driver Fernando Alonso compared the engine to a GP engine, countless DNF’s due to Mechanical issues to do with the power unit, and just not being able to compete with even the middle of the pack. The last 3 season, the team ahs been able to improve substantially year on year. From 145 points in 2019, to 202 in 2020 and this season our highest points tally since the 2012 season.
All eyes will turn towards the unveiling of the 2022 car in Mid-February, the MCL36 will hopefully be a car worth challenging for not just a Teams Championship but hopefully put both our drivers on pace with the rest of the top drivers and teams. After an amazing season and all be it controversial finish for one of our former legend sin Lewis Hamilton, the 2022 F1 season is set to be the most competitive season in the last decade. Hopefully for both our drivers, we’ll see more Podiums and more race wins.