McLaren boss Andreas Seidl has warned the team faces a race against time to improve its qualifying performance for the next event in Turkey after a Sunday of “damage limitation” at the Emila Romagna Grand Prix.
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz could only qualify ninth and 10th for the race at Imola and were subsequently compromised as they were unable to overtake slower cars in front, with the Spaniard, specifically, stuck behind Daniil Kvyat in the early stages.
Sainz eventually finished seventh, with Norris eighth, leaving McLaren tied with Racing Point and a point behind Renault in the battle for third in the constructors' championship.
Seidl conceded the team had to be content that the drivers could capitalise on others misfortune to muster a result.
“We need to be happy with the outcome that we could score 10 points in the end," he said. "It was damage limitation in a weekend where we couldn’t compete with them in terms of performance.
“We benefitted from incidents which kept us in the fight for this P3, but it is clear that we need to use the next one and a half weeks to see in all areas how we can find the smallest gains to make sure we can keep this battle up.
“We still have it in our hands to keep this fight alive and that’s what we are focused on. As always, the key is qualifying position on Saturday afternoon, it makes such a difference, and that’s what we have to focus on.”
The result in Imola was an eye-opener for McLaren as five teams - Mercedes, Renault, AlphaTauri, Ferrari and Racing Point - all finished ahead of McLaren. It would have been six had Max Verstappen not suffered a tyre blowout in his Red Bull.
Asked if it was a shock to be behind so many rivals, Seidl said: “It is not a shock, it’s the reality we are in and that’s how we see it as a team. We know we still have a lot to improve as a team, in all areas.
“If you compare this year’s car with last year’s car, we made a great step forward. The way we work together as a team is encouraging, which makes me optimistic looking ahead that we can also make the next steps.
“But we shouldn’t forget that the competitors we are having are strong competitors and we simply need more time to make the next steps as a team.”
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