McLaren recognized chance of Italian GP victory after Friday pace

McLaren knew it had a chance of winning the Italian Grand Prix once it saw its pace in qualifying on Friday, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.

Lando Norris qualified fourth and Daniel Ricciardo fifth in the early qualifying session, but Ricciardo was particularly frustrated not to secure a top-three starting position. He duly rectified that with third place in the Sprint – promoted to second on the main grid by a penalty for Valtteri Bottas – and then took the lead from Max Verstappen at the start before leading home a one-two.

“We knew going into the race after the performance on Friday and what we’ve seen in the Sprint, that we managed to stay ahead of the quicker cars like Lewis (Hamilton) and Max,” Seidl said. “And if we could overtake Max on the run to Turn 1, there was a chance for the race (win) because it is difficult to stay close and get into position to overtake.

“To me, it was impressive to see how the team with Lando and Daniel pulled it off under the pressure of knowing that we had a competitive car and a chance to score something big. Even without the crash with Lewis and Max it was a controlled race from our side, and managing the gap between Daniel and the car behind.”

While Seidl is delighted to see McLaren end its nine-year drought for a victory with its first one-two since Canada in 2010 (and the first for any constructor this season), he added that the team still has a lot of work to do to have a car that is competitive at every venue.

“In the end, what I respect looking at Mercedes and Red Bull is simply that they have a car that can fight for the win every single weekend. That is the gap we are having as a team compared to them. In the end, it is a sensational result for us. But only seven days ago we were completely destroyed in terms of performance.

“That is the gap we still have to the top teams and also with our car. That is why we have to keep working hard in order to close this gap on all types of circuits. But a day like (Monza) is the best motivation to keep going.

“We are very happy with what both drivers showed this weekend, and with Daniel making the steps now since the summer break in getting back to where he wants to be and we want to have him. And this in addition to Lando, who is in unbelievable form this year.

“I would say that’s the driver line-up we want to have and need to have in order to fight with Ferrari, and in order to keep going on our journey towards the front of Formula 1 again.”