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McLaren vs Ferrari: The Battle for P3

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Now in the summer break and very close to the halfway mark, the battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship is very much on, with McLaren and Ferrari tied on 163 points. But who will be triumphant? I want to look at both teams’ performance so far this season. 

McLaren

At the end of the 2020 season, the Woking-based team finished third in the constructors, which gave the team the motivation to keep this momentum going for 2021. Now with the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo to the team and a Mercedes engine, the team were excited with what the new prospects had in store and to keep pushing for success in the 2021 season.

Right from the start, McLaren came out strong and fighting, having both drivers have top 10 finishes and maintained their P3 position in the standings.

Lando Norris

Lando Norris has been one of the standout stars in this years season, performing exceptionally well and having his best season in his F1 career and has already exceeded his points from last year, and we’re not even halfway through!

He wowed everyone in the opening race of the year performing some great overtakes to finish in P4 in Bahrain. To then go to Imola and have an amazing qualifying almost making it into the top 3, but had exceeded track limits deleting his time. Nevertheless, he came back fighting and claimed his first podium of the season (and second of his career) in P3.

The 21-year-old Briton kept going from strength to strength, scoring a further two podiums in Monaco and Austrian Grand Prix, and being the only McLaren driver to have 15 consecutive finishes in the points before the Hungarian Grand Prix where he was forced to retire after being taken out by Valtteri Bottas.

He is currently third in the Drivers’ Championship and has already beaten his points total from last year, and we are not even halfway through the season! He has proven his undeniable talent in the sport and highlights that he can be a future World Champion in years to come.

Image Credit: Mark Sutton/McLaren Racing

Daniel Ricciardo

Joining a new team is challenging for any driver as it takes time to adapt to the car and the team. For Daniel Ricciardo, it has been no secret he has found it challenging this year, especially last year he was able to claim two podiums and multiple top 5 finishes.

However, he really has been doing well this season! The Aussie driver has finished in the top 9 for the majority of the races so far this season, and if he had a poorer qualifying, he had made up for in the race overtaking the midfield and landing himself in the top 10.

The issue for Ricciardo is expectations were very high when he was joining McLaren and with Norris performing exceptionally well this season, he appears to be “struggling” more than he is. More recently, he has been much more confident in the MCL35M, and finished fifth at Silverstone, and performed very well at Paul Ricard in France in P6.

I believe now with 12 races to go in this year’s season and now in the summer break, Ricciardo will come back recharged and stronger than before, and possibly will be able to challenge higher up the grid and maybe even score his first podium for the team!

He is currently P9 in the standings with 50 points but is the highest-ranked driver to have not scored a podium as of yet.

Image Credit: Steven Tee/Motorsport Images

Ferrari

Last year was pretty painful for Ferrari, looking to have been completely off the pace and struggling for top 10 finishes at times. But now with the arrival of ex-McLaren driver, Carlos Sainz, to the team and making vast improvements to the car, the team are back fighting for podiums and joint P3 in the standings.

For both drivers, it has been a mixed fortune. Sainz has had to get used to the new team and car but seemed to have settled pretty quickly compared to some other drivers, and looked to be on pace with teammate Charles Leclerc. As Leclerc has been fighting for pole positions and podiums, topping the midfield at times.

Charles Leclerc

The Monegasque driver has already had a much better start to the season in comparison to 2020, finishing the majority of the races so far in the top 8.

He has had his strokes of bad luck where he took that controversial pole position in Monaco after crashing into the barrier at Swimming pool chicane ending qualifying early compromising his rivals’ laps but then was unable to start the race due to a failure in the driveshaft. He also was forced to retire at the Hungarian Grand Prix after being hit by Lance Stroll as he described like a “bowling game”.

But, he has had some highs and has stood on the second step of the podium at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, after showing some incredible pace and challenging Lewis Hamilton for the victory. He has also finished in the top 8 in 8/11 races a vast improvement from last year, and I think he will be able to continue to challenge for podiums later in the season.

There is still a long way to go if we compare his 2019 season, however, this has shown a lot of promise for himself and the team. With the new regulations coming in 2022, it is all to play for, and definitely can be one to beat.

He is currently on 80 points in the drivers’ standings in P7 and is set to easily beat his 98 points from last year.

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Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari Twitter

Carlos Sainz

The Spaniard left the now-rival McLaren to join Scuderia Ferrari and has instantly fitted into the team seamlessly.

He has already scored two podiums in Monaco and now Hungary after Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification, his best result in his F1 career thus far. He has been on the pace with his teammate and at times looking faster and stronger than Leclerc.

Many expected Sainz to be the stop-gap whilst Mick Schumacher honed his skills in Haas, but Sainz has proven what an incredible driver he is. Last year he was equal to Norris, and I don’t think many realised the talent and performance of both drivers, and this year both have shown they are a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, there have been some lows, crashing out in qualifying a couple of times and not making it into Q3. But like Ricciardo has been able to rectify those mistakes and make his way into the top 10 in the Grand Prix, scoring decent points for the team.

Speaking to Formula 1, Sainz has felt “proud” of his results so far this season: “I’m quite happy, quite positive about this first half; obviously it was quite a big challenge when I started in a new team and a big team like Ferrari. 

“I was going in with confidence but you don’t know how really how it’s going to turn out so I must say I’m quite proud, quite happy.

“The speed has been there since race one, which immediately made me a bit more relaxed about it, I knew I was very fast straight away with this car and I could just improve with the other things, you know, which is just getting the whole weekend together.”

He is currently sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, just three points ahead of his teammate Leclerc.

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Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari Twitter

With the battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship being so close, it is going to be tough to call who will be triumphant. Both teams are stronger than ever and hungry for that place in the standings, but who will come out on top?

 

Headline Image: f1.com

 

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