If you’ve listened to our podcast for any length of time, you’ll know that Grace and I have a lot of fun ribbing each other over our favorite teams. Grace is a McLaren fan and I’ve always liked Ferrari. You can imagine our conversations back in 2007!
Regardless, I couldn’t be happier for McLaren and the job Zak and the entire team are doing. From being the ninth quickest car in 2018 to a real contender for best-of-the-rest in 2019, the turnaround has been fabulous.
There’s a part of me that wishes it could have been while Fernando Alonso was still there because I think he would have been fun to watch in a competitive car but that’s not to take anything away from Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris who are currently doing a very good job.
In fact, an article at Autosport quotes new team boss Andreas Seidl as contributing some of this year’s gains down to the good work Fernando and his teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne did in 2018.
“I think no one expected it inside the team, after finishing the  season as the ninth fastest car to make such a step,” said Seidl.
“It simply shows that a lot of the changes that were triggered last year are paying off.
“The team did a good job in bringing this year’s car on track. They understood a lot after the input of the drivers from last year, and we should pay a lot of credit to Fernando and Stoffel, pointing out what the weaknesses were and what direction we needed to develop the car.
“That all pays off now.”
As I mentioned after France, McLaren could be establishing themselves as the fourth team if they can replicate this performance in Austria and the UK. So far, they have done so but Seidl shared the same thought I had about their true pace.
“In the last two races we also had the fourth fastest car, so we deserve to be in fourth place in the constructors’ championship,” he said.
“But up to the Paul Ricard race we have to be honest: we didn’t have the fourth fastest car.
“It was somewhere between the fifth and seventh fastest car and in the end we were in P4 because we had better reliability, better pit stops, better strategy, or better understanding of the tyres.”
Things can change quickly and track-limited performances can creep up from nowhere just as Mercedes displayed last weekend. McLaren will have to work hard but the news that Pat Fry leaving the team is an interesting development…if not understandable.
When the team hired James Key, they had to wait for his gardening leave to end before joining the team. Fry came on board last September and perhaps now that Ky is in charge, Fry seeks his fortunes elsewhere. As the article point out at Autosport, Williams could be a logical choice but with Fry’s history at Ferrari and Manor, I am unsure if Sif Frank and Claire would be convinced.