McLaren have targeted two key areas to improve on for the 2021 Formula season. The team are high on confidence after they finished third in the constructors' championship in 2020 and are returning to Mercedes engine power after a deal was agreed in last year.
In the chassis department, the team went to make the car more of an all-rounder. McLaren technical director James Key said the 2020 machine was strong in the high-speed turns and at its best during stable weather conditions.
"I think our strengths have been typically the high-speed corners," Key explained. "Certainly from the beginning of the season, we were very competitive in the medium and higher speed corners. Straight line braking has been another strength of ours as well, which benefited us on some tracks – like Austria for example.
"I think in terms of weaknesses, we still need to improve ourselves a bit in low speed. It's not quite as weak as it was [in 2019], and that was one of the big pushes to try and improve that low speed, balance and consistency that we had in certain types of low speed corners. Then, in some conditions, the car doesn't perform quite as well as we'd like it to - and that's in some weather conditions or some grip conditions, which we can kind of see in the data.
"We need to understand that actually, but it's not one of those overnight fixes. So that's what we're really targeting. I think if we can iron some of that out, we'll have a more consistent car from one race to the next."
The midfield battle was as competitive as ever in 2020 but McLaren came out on top in the final race against Racing Point in Abu Dhabi. Their new driver line-up, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, should be strong but to close the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull, McLaren know the importance of resolving their problems and are working hard to make gains on the car.
"It has been a bit of an issue for us," Key said. "We think we've pinned it down to one thing, which is just a characteristic of the car that we need to iron out. But with all these things, there's no silver bullet – you just have to work on it.
But there is an element of probably being a bit more affected by it than others, positively as well as negatively, depending on the direction of the wind. Every car, of course, suffers from this. Our drivers have said they've seen cars ahead locking up and having troubles as well [when it is windy], so I think it affects everyone.
"But possibly on occasion, when it's been in the wrong direction or affected a certain corner a certain way, it has had a worst effect on us."