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McLaren buoyed by fact it has "third-best car" behind Mercedes and Red Bull

McLaren buoyed by fact it has "third-best car" behind Mercedes and Red Bull

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McLaren buoyed by fact it has "third-best car" behind Mercedes and Red Bull

McLaren buoyed by fact it has "third-best car" behind Mercedes and Red Bull

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl left the Formula 1 season-opener in Bahrain encouraged by the fact his team had the "third-best car".

Despite appearing to be best of the rest behind Red Bull and Mercedes on occasions last year and ultimately finishing third in the constructors' championship, Seidl always felt main rival Racing Point's RP20 was the third-best car.

After qualifying well in Bahrain with Daniel Ricciardo sixth and Lando Norris seventh, the latter went on to finish fourth behind podium trio Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.

As for Ricciardo, after being hampered by damage caused when AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly ran into him in the early exchanges, the Australian still managed to score points for finishing seventh.

“It was encouraging to see that if we look at Lando’s race, we had the third-best car," said Seidl before the damage to Ricciardo's floor had been confirmed.

"What was also encouraging to see was that if you look at the gap between Lando and Lewis, who had a pretty much flat-out race, it was only about 45 seconds.

"That again confirms we have made a good step forward compared to these top guys over the winter. As I have said many times, this is key to getting back to the front in the future."

As is typical of his character, Seidl was quick to pay tribute to the work of McLaren's midfield rivals during the off-season whilst reiterating his team cannot rest on any laurels given its early-season pace.

“At the same time, we have to acknowledge that we have strong competition that also made good steps forward," added Seidl.

"That is the bigger picture and we need to make sure we simply don’t get carried away from that result and we keep working hard to bring more updates to the car to make sure we stay in this battle."

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