Off the pace and sixth overall at the end of last year, it was unclear how much progress McLaren could make this year, particularly following the departure of Fernando Alonso. But they have been a revelation in 2019, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris impressing. And McLaren’s new chief Andreas Seidl reckons credit for that turnaround must go to Alonso and team mate Stoffel Vandoorne…
The last four years have been something of a struggle for McLaren, the iconic British team enduring a miserable time with Honda for three seasons before a challenging first campaign last term with Renault, following a reasonably late decision to switch to the French manufacturer’s power unit.
Alonso opted to leave F1 – and went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second successive year this term - while Stoffel Vandoorne headed to Formula E, as McLaren changed things up on the driver front, drafting in Sainz to replace Alonso and promoting Norris from reserve to a race seat. It’s proved an inspired decision, with McLaren currently fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Their points tally of 52 is just 10 shy of their total from the whole of last season, and what's more their results have been deserved, rather than circumstantial or fortuitous. In France and Austria, they had the fourth fastest car on pure performance, Norris has started fifth in each of the last two races, while Sainz is currently seventh in the drivers’ standings – best of the rest behind drivers from the top three teams.