McLaren and Renault – living in the real world
A sense of realism, of feet planted firmly on the ground, is the mood shared at both Renault and its engine customer McLaren. The pair vied for fourth place in the standings, with McLaren comfortably taking it thanks to the impressive Carlos Sainz Jr. and highly promising rookie Lando Norris. The pair, buoyed by a largely happy experience in 2019, have played their part in shaping the McLaren MCL35 under new technical director James Key – and there is a palpable sense of quiet optimism that the regeneration of a once-great team will continue this term. But no one, including Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl at the top, will be taking that for granted.
At Renault, a sense of gloom drifted over the team, even after the marquee signing of Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull. The car just wasn’t fast enough, but the team also appeared to give up too many points on race strategy. Ricciardo is a proven top-line F1 star, and in the second and last year of his current deal, he’ll be fired up to rekindle the qualities that made him shine so bright at Red Bull – especially as he might well be in the hunt for a move back up the grid with a top three team in 2021…
The battle between McLaren and Renault, not to mention that promising Racing Point, will be intense. Renault was embarrassed to fall behind its customer in 2019 – and there’s a judgemental company board to impress, too. Much is riding on a strong season before the new regulations kick in next year.