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Mercedes challenge this year "unrealistic" from McLaren

Mercedes challenge this year "unrealistic" from McLaren

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Mercedes challenge this year "unrealistic" from McLaren

Mercedes challenge this year "unrealistic" from McLaren

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has declared it "unrealistic" his team can push Mercedes in this year's Formula 1 title race.

McLaren became the first team to unveil its new car for the season on Monday when it pulled the covers off the MCL35M, seeking to build on its best performance since 2012 last year when it finished third in the constructors' championship.

Although the team has again reunited with Mercedes by taking on its power unit after a seven-year break, Brown has downplayed suggestions it can challenge the works' organisation over the course of what is set to be a record-breaking 23-race calendar.

“The field is unbelievably close, but I think challenging for the championship would be unrealistic given the journey we are on," said Brown.

"I think all we can hope and strive for is to close the gap to Mercedes, who we anticipate to be the fastest team again in ’21.

“The rules haven’t changed significantly so I don’t think 2021 will look much different from 2020 for the entire grid other than expecting it to get yet even closer.

"We went into Abu Dhabi [the final race of last season] with the ability to finish third or fourth or fifth [in the constructors' championship]. It was that close and we anticipate it being even closer.

"What we can do this year is hope we can close the gap. Short of that, it is too competitive to give any prediction.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl echoed Brown's sentiments, insisting it was a case of the team trying to run before it can walk.

“First of all, obviously, it was a great achievement for us to get P3 last year," said Seidl.

"Coming into this year, we are again expecting a very tough battle with all the competitors we were fighting with last year.

"We have Lando [Norris] now coming into his third year in Formula 1, and with Daniel [Ricciardo] on board with us, he has a clear reference for the sport.

"We need to make sure that as a team we work together. We want to get closer to the cars in front of us, the Mercedes and Red Bull cars that we weren’t able to last year. We need to be realistic.”

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