McLaren wary of Ferrari threat, need both drivers scoring points

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McLaren is far from playing down the threat posed by Ferrari in their battle for third in the Constructors' Championship.

The Woking-based team currently sits 12 points ahead of their historical rivals after the first eight races, a gap that only emerged after Ferrari failed to score at the French Grand Prix.

At last weekend's first race in Austria, while Lando Norris was all alone in fifth, both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc worked their way up to sixth and seventh on race day, certainly catching the Briton's attention.

"They are a little bit up and down," Norris said of Ferrari's inconsistency.

"It is not like they’re in trouble at every race. Paul Ricard was particularly bad for them, but a lot of tracks will suit them more than us.

"They struggle in the straights still, but on the GPS they are one of the best in the corners, similar to Mercedes. They are a big threat at the moment.

"We are still working hard, that is why we are not taking anything for granted at the moment.

"We have to keep chipping away and improving the car because once they [Ferrari] put it all together they can easily be ahead of us. It’s tough."

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl agrees, predicting the battle will ebb and flow.

“Ferrari was strong. It is not a surprise. We never underestimated what a team like Ferrari could do," said the German.

“Still, I think in terms of qualifying performance and also the performance that Daniel [Ricciardo] could pull off, with a car with no reliability issues we could beat them. That is the positive thing.

“But it will be a tough battle throughout the year depending on the tracks as well, the different track characteristics and so on.

"It is important we focus on ourselves and try each weekend to extract the maximum out of the package that we have now, making sure we stay on top of the reliability and making sure we stay on top of the operational side as well during race weekends."

A key factor in the battle will be Ricciardo, who has struggled to get up to speed with McLaren.

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In Styria, he suffered a blip in his progress after finishing 13th in both qualifying and the race, as a strong start on Sunday was ruined by a brief loss of power.

“Of course he was disappointed he couldn’t continue the good development of the last few races,” Seidl told Auto Motor und Sport of the Australian.

“Just like us, he didn’t expect to have to fight like that in qualifying.

“The fact we are now driving on the same track again [this weekend] is perfect for his learning process. We can check whether we have drawn the right conclusions.

“Given the battle we are in, both cars have to score points every weekend.”