McLaren Expect Return To Form In France

Jarrod Partridge

After a disappointing race in Baku that saw Mclaren drop behind Ferrari in the 2021 Constructor’s Championship battle, the Woking-based team are looking forward to heading to France, and to the return of a race where they have experienced great success over the years. 

McLaren has won the French Grand Prix five times: the first came with James Hunt in 1976 at Paul Ricard, Niki Lauda followed up eight years later at Dijon, Alain Prost scored two memorable home wins with the team in 1988 and 1989 at Paul Ricard, and David Coulthard followed up just over a decade later at Magny-Cours in 2000.

When F1 last raced at Paul Ricard, it marked only Lando Norris’ third points score in the sport – just a handful of races into his rookie season. This year he arrives as the only driver to have scored points in every race so far this season, while Daniel Ricciardo has a top-five finish at Paul Ricard to his name courtesy of fourth in 2018.

Can Lando Norris Keep Points Run Going?

Lando Norris is the only driver to score points in every race in 2021, and it is a streak the young driver is looking to continue having now left the more demanding street circuits behind. 

“Looking back on Baku, we made a good recovery to score some important points for the Constructors’ Championship. At the same time there’s a lot we can learn from the weekend that we can take into the triple-header. Three races back-to-back can be intense, but everyone at the track and the factory is prepared and is continuing to give everything to give us the best chance to compete for points. We need to keep pushing as a team to extract the most out of the car to stay in this tight battle with our competitors.

“Switching from a run of street circuits to more traditional tracks with France and Austria will be an exciting challenge. It’s great to be returning to Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix after everything that’s happened in the last year. It’s a fun, fast track with a mix of corners and opportunities for good racing,” said Norris.

More Track Time For Daniel Ricciardo

As he continues to come to grips with his new car, Daniel Ricciardo is relishing the acceleration of the process over the next three weekends in the first triple-header of the season. 

“We head to France this week to start the first triple-header of the season and I can’t wait to get started. Three back-to-back races can be seen as a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity to get continuous time in the car and really build on the progress we’ve made so far. Being able to consecutively put more miles in over the next three weekends combined with the work we’ve done in the simulator will hopefully get us to a good place and continue to build my confidence in the car.

“We definitely had a productive weekend in Baku with several positive moments. I’m looking forward to racing at Paul Ricard this weekend. It’s a much more conventional and forgiving track than Baku that also comes with slightly fewer risks. So, let’s stay focused, try and make everything click and see what we can do!” added Ricciardo.
Image credit McLaren press office

Triple-Header Creates Unique Challenges

With three races in as many weekends, reliability and spare parts play a big part in on-track success, something Andreas Seidl has been monitoring closely in the lead up to the first of three races. 

“After street circuits in Monaco and Baku, our attention now turns towards the first triple-header of the season with the first race in France. As a team we know what to expect from the demands of a triple-header and we’re well prepared for the task at hand. Keeping strong momentum operationally, with our reliability and the management of spare parts is a priority to overcome the unique challenges that back-to-back races present.

“After taking the time to analyse and understand the data from Baku, it’s clear that we still need to continue to take steps forward as a team and extract the most out of our package as we compete in a very close battle with our competitors. The Circuit Paul Ricard is a different style of track compared to previous races and therefore it’s difficult to understand the pecking order ahead of the weekend. Our priority going forward is to qualify well in order to put ourselves in the best position possible to score the most points on Sundays. We remain focused and determined to once again fight for good points this weekend.

“Finally, we’ll be racing in honour of Mansour Ojjeh this weekend. He was and always will be an integral part of the McLaren family and a true inspiration to all of us,” concluded Seidl.

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