In 2020, McLaren enjoyed their most successful season since 2012. In their tightly fought battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship, the team recorded two podium finishes. Here are the facts and statistics from McLaren’s 2020 F1 season!
The tight battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship was highlighted in the very first race. While Lando Norris qualified fourth, Carlos Sainz was just three tenths slower and qualified only eighth. It was a battle in which McLaren would ultimately come out on top, securing third place at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Only Mercedes and Red Bull reached Q3 on more occasions than McLaren this season. The team closed the deficit to the ultimate qualifying pace, and Carlos Sainz provided the team with two top three qualifications. The team recorded two podium finishes: one for Lando Norris at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, and one for Carlos Sainz – who was within half a second of winning the Italian Grand Prix.
McLaren will switch power unit next season, from Renault to Mercedes. They’ll also have a fresh face in the team in the form of Daniel Ricciardo. The two main questions for the team ahead of 2021 are: how will the Mercedes power unit perform in the McLaren chassis? And how will Ricciardo compare to Norris?
A STATISTIC FROM EVERY GRAND PRIX
Austria: Lando Norris’ fourth place in qualifying marked McLaren’s best qualifying result at the Austrian Grand Prix since Kimi Raikkonen lined up on the front row in 2003. Norris eventually moved up to third on the grid – marking McLaren’s first top three start since Jenson Button started third at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. Norris went on to record a podium finish.
Styria: The 2020 Austrian and Styrian Grands Prix marked the first time that McLaren have set the Fastest Lap in two consecutive races since the 2011 Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix. Those two races are also the last time that a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull set the fastest lap at two consecutive rounds of the championship.
Hungary: After qualifying for the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes and McLaren were the only teams to have reached Q3 with both drivers at all three rounds of the season.
Britain: Both McLaren drivers reached Q3 at the British Grand Prix for the first time since 2014. Lando Norris’ fifth place was their best qualifying result at Silverstone since Jenson Button lined up third in 2014, while his fifth place in the race was McLaren’s best result at the British Grand Prix since Jenson Button finished in fourth place in 2014.
70th Anniversary: Carlos Sainz qualified in thirteenth place, making this the first time that a McLaren driver failed to reach Q3 since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren have finished with one car in the points and one outside the points in all of the last four Silverstone races.
Spain: For the first time since 2011, both McLaren drivers qualified inside the top ten for the Spanish Grand Prix. With seventh place, Carlos Sainz equalled McLaren’s best qualifying result at the event of the last nine years. Fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso also qualified seventh for the team in 2017. For the first time since 2014, McLaren did not record a retirement in the Spanish Grand Prix. It was the first time that both McLaren cars have finished in the points in Spain since 2013, and Carlos Sainz’s sixth place was the team’s best result at the track since both cars finished on the podium in 2011.
Belgium: For the first time since 2014, both McLaren drivers qualified in the top ten for the Belgian Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz qualified in seventh, while Lando Norris qualified in tenth – the same positions in which Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button qualified the last time both McLaren drivers reached Q3 at this circuit. Norris finished in seventh place, making this the first Belgian Grand Prix in which a McLaren driver has scored since 2016. In that race, just as in 2020, one driver finished seventh while the other failed to finish.
Italy: The 2020 Italian Grand Prix marked the first time that a McLaren driver has qualified in the top three at Monza since Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button locked out the front row in 2012. Meanwhile, with Lando Norris qualifying sixth, this was the first time since 2014 that both McLaren drivers appeared in Q3 at Monza. Carlos Sainz recorded his best ever race result with second place, becoming the first McLaren driver to finish on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix since Hamilton won in 2012. Prior to the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, McLaren had scored only one point at the track in the previous five years. Sainz led a lap of a Grand Prix for the first time in his career, becoming the first McLaren driver to do so since Jenson Button led a single lap of the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix. Norris finished in fourth place, making the 2020 Italian Grand Prix the first race since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix in which both McLaren drivers have finished in the top four. It was also the first time that both McLaren drivers have scored at Monza since 2014.
Tuscany: Lando Norris failed to reach Q3 for the first time in 2020, qualifying in eleventh place. It was only the second time in 2020 that a McLaren driver failed to qualify in the top ten; Carlos Sainz qualified thirteenth for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Russia: McLaren recorded the same qualifying result for the 2020 Russian Grand Prix as they did for the 2019 Russian Grand Prix, with Carlos Sainz sixth and Lando Norris eighth. With Norris finishing in fifteenth and Sainz failing to finish, the 2020 Russian Grand Prix was the first race at which McLaren failed to score since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix. Sainz recorded McLaren’s first DNF in Russia, though it was not their first non-finish. Fernando Alonso failed to make the start of the Sochi race in 2017.
Eifel: Lando Norris’ retirement made the Eifel Grand Prix the fourth time in the last five races that a McLaren driver has failed to reach the chequered flag.
Portugal: A British McLaren driver finished in thirteenth place for a second Portuguese Grand Prix in a row. David Coulthard finished thirteenth in the 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix, while Lando Norris was thirteenth in 2020 event.
Emilia Romagna: Lando Norris qualified ninth, while Carlos Sainz qualified tenth at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. This was only the second time in the last 24 races at Imola where neither McLaren driver qualified in the top eight; it also happened in 2004.
Turkey: For the first time since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, neither McLaren driver reached Q3 at the Turkish Grand Prix. Both Lando Norris, eleventh, and Carlos Sainz, thirteenth, equalled their worst qualifying results of the season to date.
Bahrain: It was a successful day for McLaren at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The team finished with both cars in the top five for the third time in 2020. Finishing in fourth place, Lando Norris recorded the third top four result of his career. Carlos Sainz finished in fifth place for a second consecutive race, recording successive top five finishes for the first time since the 2019 German and Hungarian Grands Prix. This was the first time that both McLaren drivers have finished in the top five at the Bahrain Grand Prix since 2007.
Sakhir: While one McLaren driver reached Q3 and the other qualified fifteenth for a second week in a row, both drivers scored at the Bahrain International Circuit for a second race at the track in a row. It was the first time McLaren scored with both cars at two consecutive races in Bahrain since 2007 and 2008.
Abu Dhabi: Carlos Sainz started his 37th and final race with McLaren at the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Sainz leaves McLaren having contested the seventeenth most races with the team from any of their drivers. Lando Norris equalled his career-best qualifying result with fourth place. His fourth place was the first time that a McLaren driver has qualified in the top four at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the 2012 race. This was the first time since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that both McLaren drivers qualified in the top ten. McLaren finished the race with Norris in fifth and Sainz in sixth, marking the first time that both McLaren drivers have finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the top six since Hamilton and Jenson Button finished on the podium in 2011.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.