McLaren worried by challenge from "what appears to be last year's Mercedes"
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has pulled no punches in the challenge he expects this season from Formula 1 rivals Racing Point and "what appears to be last year's Mercedes".
After unveiling its RP20 during pre-season testing in Barcelona, Racing Point technical director Andrew Green was forced to defend the design of the car as many observers felt it strongly resembled Mercedes' 2019 championship-winning model.
Green conceded the car that was soon dubbed 'the pink Mercedes' "shares some resemblances in some areas", just as other F1 cars share designs with rival machinery.
Ahead of the season starting in Austria on July 3-5, Brown is appreciably concerned at his team's chances of holding on to fourth place in the constructors' championship, as was achieved last season.
"Hopefully, our car is strong," Brown said in a Sky F1 Vodcast. "We were happy with winter testing, but from what we can see that midfield is going to be tighter than ever.
"I do think this year is going to be tougher. The whole grid, if you look at winter testing, Racing Point was clearly very quick with what appears to be last year's Mercedes, and it should be quick because it won the championship last year.
"So they're going to be very tough. They've made the biggest off-season progress.
"So I do think this year is going to be tougher than last year. I can see us being fourth, I can see us sliding to sixth because others will challenge.
"I think it will come down to reliability, drivers continuing to do a good job, a team executing, because I think there is not much difference between the cars."
Brown has vowed his team will be "bringing some toys as often as possible" in terms of updates, although mindful of the fact teams are now limited with regard to such improvements.
"Because of the frequency of racing we probably have been focused more on spares than on updates," added Brown. "I think a lot of the teams are because we're going to have three races on the trot. I think we're going to need to make sure we have all our spares.
"Of course, Formula 1, to tackle the expense side of the sport, we're now limited on upgrades for this year and next tear, but we'll all do the best we can within the rules. It's definitely a new environment."
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