How McLaren’s 'united' culture is feeding its F1 charge

The ever-smiling Daniel Ricciardo joked after the Italian Grand Prix that key to McLaren’s Formula 1 progress was that team boss Andreas Seidl had finally allowed some artificial stimulants.

How McLaren’s 'united' culture is feeding its F1 charge

“He used to disallow the use of caffeine within the team, and now it's an open shop!” japed Ricciardo when asked about what had built the team’s confidence in recent weeks.

But while the caffeine explanation is certainly wide of the mark, what isn’t is the influence Seidl has had in helping steer McLaren from the doldrums into a squad that is now, at times at least, a thorn in the side of title contenders Mercedes and Red Bull.

For what is important to understand about McLaren is that its push up the grid has not come about just because the team has unlocked some extra performance from its car.

It’s been very much a case of the biggest change coming from within the team’s attitude itself. It is a squad typified of everyone pulling in the same direction with the right approach: factory staff, engineers, mechanics, drivers, team management and other crew are all in it for each other.

That is in contrast to how things were amid the difficult period after Honda’s re-entry to F1 in 2015, or of the final years of Ron Dennis’s involvement prior to that, where internal politics were tricky to plot a path through.

As Lewis Hamilton pointed out after battling Lando Norris for victory at the Russian Grand Prix: “It’s good to see them united again.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren celebrate with team members

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren celebrate with team members

Photo by: McLaren

What Seidl has succeeded in is leading a team that has got its belief back, which has helped deliver a better car, which in turn helps further charge the belief. It’s a virtuous circle that produces F1 results.

As Ricciardo explained: “We're in good spirits obviously, and we're building in confidence.

“I think the team was already building this over the last few years, and it's just continuing on that path. I think everyone's getting settled in the team and I think they're just kind of growing with each other. So, just a good group: a good group of lads and Sheilas!”

The role of the drivers cannot be underestimated in this, because in Ricciardo and Norris, McLaren has two characters who fit in perfectly with what the team needs. They are quick, personable, happy and willing to go the extra mile.

In Norris’ case, he is even part of the furniture at the team’s Woking factory.

“I've seen the changes in the team and I live too close, three minutes away or something from the factory, so I am always in there,” he said.

“The other week I was almost in there every single day. So I see everyone there, I even see people at the golf club. I see people around because I'm always at dinner and stuff like that – and I even have dinner with some of them sometimes.

“Plus, I like going around to the different departments, just randomly and not because I have to. I do it because I want to go and see how everyone is doing, and say hello.

“It just makes them feel more part of the team, and not like they're just working for someone.

“I want to make them feel part of it as well, and I think Daniel does too. We're one big group, one big family.

“They are there for us and we're there for them. They want to help us, we want to help them. And we want to see each other succeed, and succeed together.”

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, and Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1st position, with their trophies

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, and Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1st position, with their trophies

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

But it’s not just a case of McLaren being lucky that Norris lives close by, so he can pop in. The effort made by Ricciardo has been big too, despite complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about how he has helped harness the buzz at McLaren, Ricciardo said: “It's really about creating relationships.

“It's been a little harder, with COVID. Don't get me wrong, it's nice on race weekends to take the crew out to dinner, and kind of just get to know each other better.

“Ultimately we all share the same passion, and it makes you appreciate you're in it and you're kind of following the same goal together. I think sharing all that is important.

“So we've had to kind of feed that a little bit differently, but thanks to like video calls and group chats, we can still create relationships.”

Read Also:

And it’s this mixture of motivated staff with a joined-up spirit, allied to the right people in the right places, on a wave of progress that is being fuelled by the contribution from the drivers on and off the track, that is propelling McLaren forwards.

Ricciardo added: “I kind of don't want to take any of the credit, and I think with Andreas, he probably won't want to take all the credit either, but what himself and others in the team have built over the last few years, I think they've just put really good people in place and they all kind of support each other.

“There's no shall we call it hierarchy or anything like that. It’s the kind of culture that if someone falls down, you pick them up and move forward together. And I feel that.

“I think everyone in the team really feels privileged to be part of McLaren.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, 1st position, takes victory to the delight of his team on the pit wall

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, 1st position, takes victory to the delight of his team on the pit wall

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

shares
comments

Related video

Podcast: Ranking the greatest of Lewis Hamilton's 100 F1 wins
Previous article

Podcast: Ranking the greatest of Lewis Hamilton's 100 F1 wins

Next article

Giovinazzi not currently considering options outside of F1 for 2022

Giovinazzi not currently considering options outside of F1 for 2022
Load comments
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021