McLaren: Drivers earned prestigious P3 in Constructors', not the car

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says the performance of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, not the car, earned the team third in the Constructors' Championship in 2020.

The Woking-based squad secured their best result since 2012 by finishing fifth and sixth in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as Racing Point's challenge was ended by an early retirement for Sergio Perez and a tough day for Lance Stroll.

And in a year which has seen McLaren hit hard financially due to Covid-19, third also brings a very healthy revenue boost, but for Brown, this wasn't the most important aspect of achieving that position.

“It’s sporting prestige,” he told

“The money’s obviously nice, but when you’re on the pit wall, you’re thinking about it purely from the sporting standpoint. Then you get to the office on Monday, and you think about the financial side.

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“The team’s done an unbelievable job to do everything we’ve been through this year, bringing on a new investor at the weekend, and then clinching third in the championship.

"We had a very good car, but clearly last year’s Mercedes is faster!" the McLaren chief added in a dig at Racing Point's 'Pink Mercedes'.

“Couldn’t have written it better. But it’s so tight, we could have been fifth this weekend and have a totally different conversation.”

Indeed, McLaren ended the year just seven points ahead of Racing Point and 21 clear of Renault.

But of the three teams, McLaren was the only one to have both drivers in the top 10 of the Drivers' Championship (Sainz in P6, Norris P9).

“If you look, [Esteban] Ocon came on strong at the end, but Daniel [Ricciardo] carried the team there,” Brown said.

“And then Sergio [Perez] is at a whole other level. And he carried the team there. So I think we’ve benefited from having two very strong drivers, as opposed to one.”

Looking ahead to next year, McLaren does expect an even tougher fight on their hands to retain third, particularly as one team looks to make a resurgence.

“I think it will be harder. I think we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground,” Brown stated.

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“You’ve got to expect Ferrari to come back strong next year. We know they’re gonna have two very strong drivers, in Carlos and Charles [Leclerc].

“I think you’ve got to assume they’re gonna be right back where we expected them to be this year. So I think it’s gonna get real tough from here on out.”

Not only that but Renault will also welcome Fernando Alonso back onto the grid, although McLaren will have their own new ace up their sleeve in the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo.

"Fernando, I think, scores himself nine out of 10 on everything," Brown told F1 paddock veteran Peter Windsor. "Daniel is awesome over a single lap and awesome over a race distance. I see a lot of aggression in Daniel.

"Until you have them both in the same car at the same time I don’t think we’ll ever know.

"But I don’t think there’s anyone faster than Daniel at the moment, so I’ll say maybe it’s a tie. But I’m rooting for my guy now."