McLaren drivers emphasise importance of 2020

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McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris stressed that the British outfit does not consider the 2020 season as "a gap year" ahead of the major regulation overhaul, but it wants to make the most out of the positive momentum it achieved last year.

At an event at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, the successful British team unveiled their new machine, the MCL35 on Thursday afternoon. The squad will stick to its driver pairing of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in 2020 after both of them have put in an impressive performance in their first year with the Woking-based outfit in the past season.

Following several disappointing seasons, the team wants to claw its way back towards the sharp end of the field. The outfit last finished inside the top three in the Constructors’ Championship in 2012, but it slipped down the pecking order after that. The downward spiral culminated in 2017 when Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne could only collect a total of 30 points for the team due to an unreliable car, leading to a disappointing ninth-place finish for the team.

The hideous result prompted the team to part ways with their engine partner Honda and switch to the power unit of the French manufacturer Renault. Due to the new partnership and a complete structural overhaul inside the British racing team, McLaren has managed to improve the situation since. In 2018, Fernando Alonso started the season with five straight point-scoring finishes and the team ended the season as the sixth-best constructor. Last year, McLaren further lifted their performance, scoring 145 points in total and finishing the season fourth.

Important year ahead

Speaking at the launch of the brand-new McLaren Formula 1 car, the MCL35, Carlos Sainz said that the team targets further improvements to get even closer to the sport’s current leading teams.

“The solid jump forward we made last season was a huge motivation but, at the same time, a strong reminder of how tight the fight continues to be in the midfield. We can’t afford to sit back in 2020 if we want to close the gap to the top. The ambition is to push myself and the team to take another step forward this season, and I’m looking forward to Barcelona testing and continuing the positive momentum we started last year.”

While „many may consider 2020 to be just a gap year between the old and the new regulations”, Sainz revealed that McLaren has put in an immense effort into the development of their new car, improving every single detail of the new machine.

Ahead of his second season on the top level of motorsport, Lando Norris disclosed that he feels more confident with all the experiences he has gained so far since the beginning of 2019.

“My rookie season was an incredible experience and I learned a lot from the team and from Carlos. With my first year under my belt, I feel more confident as a driver and in the feedback, I can provide to my engineers as we keep pushing the performance of the car throughout the year.”

As far as the new car is concerned, the young Briton also praised the work of the design team for the „great livery”.

“I think the MCL35 looks great with its updated livery – I think our fans will love it and I’m really excited to drive it for the first time. A lot of hard work and development have gone into this car from the design team, the engineers, the car build team and Carlos and myself, and it’s a special feeling to have been involved in its evolution,” he added.