McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he does not anticipate his side will continue the same level of progress it achieved from 2018 to 2019 during the 2020 Formula 1 season.

The Woking squad enjoyed dramatic improvement heading into the 2019 campaign and rose from a sixth-place finish in the constructors’ championship to fourth, beating its engine supplier Renault to the top midfield honours.

New recruits Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris scored a string of impressive results throughout the season, including sealing McLaren’s first podium in five years in Brazil with Sainz’s third-place finish.

“We need to keep going forwards,” Brown said at Autosport International.

“We had a huge step from ’18 to ’19, part of that was that because we were so poor in ’18 it was hard not to take a step in ’19.

“I don’t see that same step coming from ’19 to ’20. The regulations are very, very similar, so I don’t think the grid is going to look a lot different.

“There will probably be a little bit of surprise here and there and hopefully Williams gets a little bit stronger - it’s not great seeing where they are so hopefully they’ll pick up the pace a little bit.”

Brown hopes the presence of new team principal Andreas Seidl and technical director James Key will be felt in an even greater capacity this year and heading into F1’s regulation overhaul in 2021, given they both arrived after the start of the 2019 season.

McLaren’s MCL35 is the first to be designed by Key, and Brown says the team is “feeling pretty good” about its latest challenger.

“I think ’21 is going to be where it gets really exciting,” he explained.

“For us, we are still a young team. James Key didn’t develop last year’s car, this year he did, so let’s see what that looks like.

“Andreas Seidl only joined in the middle of the year, so if I look at my leadership team in F1, last year they all sort of joined at some point during the year, so what we need to do is get tidier, more race fit and get a good headstart.

“The ’21 car is already in the windtunnel and we feel pretty good about the ’20 car and we just need to keep our heads down and know that it’s not just going to happen overnight.

“We’re going to have some great weekends and some bad weekends but let’s just hope we keep moving forward.”

 

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