Column | Will Sochi mark a coming down to earth experience for McLaren?

23-09-2021 07:34 | Updated: 23-09-2021 07:36
Column | Will Sochi mark a coming down to earth experience for McLaren?

With the incredible outing at the Italian Grand Prix, McLaren are riding an incredible high. However, Sochi may mark a "coming down to Earth" experience for the Woking squad. Here's what they can hope and expect from this coming weekend.

The track

With an incredibly long start/finish straight and the back straight from turns 10 to 13, engine performance is critical to success on this circuit. With DRS assistance, it makes overtakes a much more straightforward affair. Aero packages would also have undergone minimal changes from Monza, with suspension and minor tweaks have undergone on the cars to assist going through some of the off-camber corners. 

With inclement weather on the cards, the engine power will play a critical role in clawing back time lost from the corners. This has certainly proven the case on clear race weekends, with the dominant Mercedes team holding the win for every appearance at the Russian track.

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McLaren’s hopes

McLaren’s impressive straight-line speed was on full display at the Italian Grand Prix, with the drivers Ricciardo and Norris holding second and third respectively ahead of lights out on Sunday. From this, they were able to hold their own in a fight against the Mercedes and Red Bull cars to claim their first one-two since 2012.

However, Sochi may hold a different story. McLaren has only recorded one successful outing in the last three years at the Russian circuit, with Sainz's sixth and Norris’ eighth place at the 2019 Grand Prix being the only points finish they’ve been able to record. They’d be hoping to, once more, lean on their extra engine performance to come home with a strong result. Do not rule out the possibility of teamwork either. With the straights providing slipstream off the line, we could see both Papaya cars assisting each other in launching themselves up the grid and away from their rivals (think back to Ferrari 2019).

While they may not repeat the incredible success they achieved at Monza, they can still land a heavy blow against Ferrari for the constructor’s championship. The Maranello outfit has also bounced back from 2020 with their engine performance, recording the fastest times up the Beau Rivage hill in Monaco and locking out the third row in the Italian Grand Prix.

This may yet prove to be a crucial battleground in the fight for third in the Constructors Championship.

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