McLaren: We want to hit the ground running in Austria

McLaren start the season boosted by a strong showing in 2019, heading to the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix the Woking outfit will be in their final season of Renault power (next year it will be Mercedes PUs – but that will hardly deter the final effort with French horsepower.

This is what they had to say ahead of this weekend’s grand prix at the Red Bull Ring:

2020 Austrian & Styrian Grands Prix

  • Red Bull Ring
  • Rounds: 1 & 2
  • Race laps: 71
  • Total race distance: 306.452km/190.420 miles
  • Length: 4.326km/2.688 miles
  • Distance to Turn One: 216.94m/0.135 miles
  • Number of corners: 10 (seven right, three left)

Session start times:

  • FP1: 1100 local/1000 CET
  • FP2: 1500 local/1400 CET
  • FP3: 1200 local/1100 CET
  • Qualifying: 1500 local/1400 CET
  • Race Start: 1510 local/1410 CET

Allocated tyre compounds:

  • Hard: C2
  • Medium: C3
  • Soft: C4

Carlos Sainz: “After a long and difficult time away from racing, it’s finally time to get back at it! It’s been my longest period without competing since I started in go-karts many years ago! The MCL35 felt really good during winter testing, a positive continuation of what we had last year, so I’m very excited to finally compete this season. It’s also been an interesting period away from track, but now we’re back to racing I’m completely focused on the 2020 season.

“Due to less races in the calendar and the strong competition we expect from our direct rivals we can’t afford to lose concentration. We actually don’t even know the amount of races we are going to do, it’s an unprecedented scenario, so every point we can get is absolutely crucial. As always, I will do everything to perform at my highest level and help the team. I’ve been keeping fit and ready to get back in the car, so I’m ready to hit the ground running in FP1.

“Last year we did well in Austria, having to battle into the points from the back of the grid due to a penalty, so we know there are plenty of opportunities for on-track overtakes. However, it’s difficult to confidently predict our performance given the time away from track.

“The doubleheader at the same circuit presents a new challenge for everyone and we need to make sure we extract the maximum out of it. I know that by the time the lights go out on Sunday, we’ll be more than ready to fight for the best position possible.”

Lando Norris: “I can’t wait to get back into a Formula 1 car, it’s been a long time coming! This break has been the longest I’ve ever taken since I started racing at seven years old, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been working hard throughout this period away from track to stay sharp and ready to go racing again. I’ve been training at home a lot and spending plenty of time on my simulator. I’ve also managed to get some karting and F3 sessions in with Carlos over the last few weeks to help get race ready as best I can.

“I’m pleased we’re getting started again in Austria, it’s a great, fast, track and we performed well there last year. It will be an interesting challenge to race there two weekends in a row, but also a great opportunity to analyse how the first race could have panned out differently and adjust our strategy for the second.

“I expect all of the grid will be feeling a bit rusty going into FP1, but I’m sure we’ll all be back up to speed when it comes to qualifying on Saturday. It will be a real shame not to have the fans at the track as we feel their support, but safety is the priority and we’ll be doing everything we can to give them a good show.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “It’s been a long wait, but we’re finally ready to get the 2020 season underway. I know that the fans, our drivers and our team have been waiting a long time for this moment and are all excited and hungry to get out there again. This temporary break in our sport has only made us more motivated to fight again.

“We’re looking forward to getting back to racing and going for the competition as hard as we can. It will be odd heading to track without fans in the grandstands, we feel their support everywhere we go and will be doing our best to put on a good show for those watching from the safety of their homes.

“Our preparation for Austria has been a balance between building enough parts to get through an intense period of races and updating and developing the car. The team is back up and running again, whether at home or in the factory, and we’re working hard to keep improving the car however we can.

“We have also spent some time getting used to the new working practices that will enable us to race safely, and we thank Formula 1, the FIA, the circuit and local authorities for their work on this. As one of the first international sports to restart, we value their commitment to keeping our team and the wider paddock safe.

“Two races in Austria presents an interesting new challenge for us. We were strong there last year but, with the uncertainty caused by the delayed start to the season, we will need to be operating at 100% to maximise our performances in both races.

“I know the whole team, Lando and Carlos are all excited by this challenge and we’ve been working hard to make sure we hit the ground running in Austria.”