McLaren has "clear goal" to improve F1 qualifying

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl acknowledged his team has a "clear goal" to improve its qualifying performance after a Spanish Grand Prix weekend that saw it struggle to match rival outfit Ferrari.

McLaren picked up where it left off in 2020, holding third place in the constructors' championship after four races with a slender five-point lead over Ferrari.

At last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix McLaren was outscored by the Italian outfit for the first time in 2021, with Ferrari's qualifying performance proving key on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc started and finished fourth, while McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris started seventh and ninth and could only move up one spot each during a race in which overtaking came at a premium.

So far at least one Ferrari has managed to outqualify both McLarens at every race weekend, leaving Norris and Ricciardo with a lot of work to do on Sundays.

Team boss Seidl acknowledged improving its qualifying form is a "clear goal" for the Woking squad, particularly ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix at which overtaking is virtually impossible.

"If you look at this race weekend, I think we simply have to accept that Ferrari was strong today in the race, but if you look at the whole season I think it is clear we need to try to finish higher up on Saturdays," Seidl said.

"Because in the end it makes your life on Sunday so much easier if you do your stints in free air without pressure behind, which we managed in some races already this year because of having a good start or a good first lap.

"And it brought us back to the position where we wanted to be already on Saturday in qualifying.

"It's clear, that's the goal. We want to finish higher up on Saturdays, in the end you want to finish on Saturday where potential of the car is."

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Seidl said Ferrari's strong pace in Barcelona "wasn't a surprise" but was still satisfied with the 12 points McLaren managed to score in its season-long battle against Maranello.

"If you start here in Barcelona in seventh and ninth, when you finish in sixth and eighth and none of the cars starting in front of you have an issue, I think you need to be happy," he added.

"It's important that we still managed to score 12 points on a race weekend where Ferrari was quite strong. And we only lost six points in the constructors' championship.

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"It's good to see it's obviously a very tight battle, especially with Ferrari, and it's simply important to make sure we keep bringing upgrades to the car in the next races in order to keep this battle of P3 alive.

"It's good that we still have this P3 despite us struggling this weekend compared to them but we're expecting a season long battle with them."

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