McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says he chose Mercedes as power unit supplier so his team has nowhere to hide, but does not think it can challenge the works team in 2021.

During the Russian Grand Prix weekend it was announced that McLaren would return to Mercedes power in 2021 after the end of its current deal with Renault, a move that Zak Brown told RACER is one of the final ingredients for the team to be able to compete at the front again. While Brown has downplayed how quickly that could happen, Seidl says it is unrealistic to think McLaren could be a threat to Mercedes when new regulations are introduced in 18 months.

“Definitely not,” Seidl said. “I think we need to be realistic. For us the next target is to make the next step next year. Hopefully we can jump somewhere in terms of performance and lap times between where we are now and the top teams — that would be a great step forward for next year.

“For 2021 onwards the new regulations are kicking in, but we need to be realistic: there’s still let’s say a lot of front-loading possible. The three top teams are not just there because of having more money, they simply do a better job also, and they will keep doing a better job, so for us it’s important to make sure we take the next steps as a team to do simply a better job.

“Then it’s important that we all have the same resources, so it’s important to have the budget cap from 21 onwards, but it will still take time until it washes out and we actually all get to hopefully the same level playing field at some point. If we get everything right on our side, and keep working hard, we hopefully can challenge them at some point.”

Although former McLaren boss Ron Dennis swapped Mercedes for Honda one year into the current power unit regulations in search of works team status, Seidl says his decision to return to Mercedes was driven by the desire to have the same components as the dominant team of this era.

“My task is clearly being in charge of the Formula 1 team, to put together as quickly as possible all the key elements that are required to be successful again in the future. This involved different stuff like organizational things, infrastructure like wind tunnel … also things like driver line-up, and of course, selecting the power unit supplier is an important milestone as well.

“For me, Mercedes being clearly the benchmark in this hybrid era in terms of powertrain was one of the main reasons why we wanted to make this decision to go for Mercedes for ’21 onwards. At the same time Mercedes as a team together with this power unit is clearly the benchmark in Formula 1, and for me the best thing is to have the same powertrain in our car as the best team in the paddock at the moment as there’s nowhere to hide for us.

“History has shown how Mercedes is working with its customers in terms of power unit supply, so I have absolutely no worries there that we won’t get the same treatment as the works team.”

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