While its midfield rival Ferrari struggles for wins again in 2021, McLaren has taken a step back in 2022, heading into the summer break in fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship behind Alpine.

The Enstone team, with McLaren now also involved in the battle for the services of Oscar Piastre, are generally no different from their Woking rivals in the first of 13 F1 2022 Grands Prix.

But with McLaren struggling to keep up with Alpine and the top three F1 teams over the course of the race, the team’s lead driver Lando Norris has qualified particularly well in recent races.

Norris finished fourth in Hungary, three-tenths ahead of both Alpine cars, after finishing fifth on the grid in France and sixth on the grid in Britain, beating one of the Mercedes cars on both occasions.

When asked why McLaren manages to do well in qualifying only to fall back during the race, Seidl explained that qualifying can mask some of the car’s weaknesses as it manages to get the most out of the Pirelli tires in one lap.

“I think overall, when we compare our competitiveness in quality versus the race, I think the quality deficit in our car is ultimately still there compared to those top three cars. I would say mainly on the downforce side, obviously you can mask quite a lot of tires with the grip you have to do on one lap in qualifying,” he explained.

“But on the race course, lack of performance or downforce obviously eats away at the tires. And I guess that’s why you see a bigger gap over the race distance.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo: Glenn Dunbar / Images of motor sports

McLaren are just four points behind Alpine heading into the summer break, largely thanks to Norris’ 76-point lead, which puts the Briton seventh and best of the rest in the drivers’ championship.

Seidl said McLaren’s latest upgrades have helped keep it in contention for fourth in the standings, although he admitted the top three teams are still some way off, even if McLaren can occasionally beat Mercedes in qualifying.

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“In terms of race pace, I guess compared to Alpine for example, we were in a good position [in Hungary]. Definitely in a better position compared to the previous weekend in [France]”, he added.

“I think, thanks to the modernization that we brought to France, which we optimized even more here in terms of use, thanks to the work that the team also put into studying what we saw in Paul Ricard, I think we made a good step here forward.

“Now it’s just important to keep going and improve the car, because when you see the lap time difference that’s still there in qualifying, it becomes clear that [the top teams] just to have a much stronger car.’


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