McLaren has been able to start work on its next Formula 1 car much earlier in 2019 than in recent seasons.
The team has completed a comprehensive restructuring following the arrival of team boss Andreas Seidl and technical director James Key, and established itself in a comfortable fourth in the constructors’ championship at present.
Seidl said McLaren saw no reason for Key to radically rethink its design concept for the first of its cars he is overseeing, but thinks a big gain is possible from how far ahead the team has got with its 2020 design.
“I would say for us that next year will be an evolution rather than a revolution,” explained Seidl.
“We have a good pace now, we learned a lot with that car, we know what the weaknesses are and that is something we want to address for next year.
“For us, where we think the next step will come with car performance is that have we started this time – and it is the first time for a while – with a normal timing of doing a car.
“We started straight after winter testing with an initial concept phase of next year’s car, which is different to previous years, and that fact together with having a clear technical director in place gives me a lot of hope.
“I am optimistic we can make the next step.
“But we need to be realistic. As I have said many times, there is no magic. The gap to the front is still huge but the aim is to get somewhere in-between next year.”
Seidl said McLaren was now considering how swiftly it can put its full attention on its 2020 design.
“The key now for the second half of the season will be when to really get to the point where we can switch full focus to next year’s car,” he said.
“Obviously results like Hungary [where Carlos Sainz Jr finished fifth] help us with that decision because one thing is also clear with the performance: the gap to the front is still huge and we clearly have to target to make the next step next year.”
McLaren is now 39 points clear of nearest pursuer Toro Rosso in the constructors’ standings, but is 182 away from Red Bull ahead in third place and 356 behind leader Mercedes.
“Our ambition is that next year we can go somewhere in-between the gap we are having at the moment, between the top three teams and us,” said Seidl.
“If you look at the lap times we are somewhere between 1-1.5 seconds away from the top three teams, and our target is to jump somewhere in-between that.”