McLaren clinched a multi-team fight for third place in the Constructors’ Championship at the final race of 2020 also involving Racing Point (now Aston Martin), Renault (now Alpine), Ferrari and AlphaTauri.

What is now Aston Martin ran McLaren closest last season, and buoyed by the arrival of new four-time champion signing Sebastian Vettel, Zak Brown also predicts another “very tough” challenge from their Silverstone rivals.

“That whole grouping we were fighting with last year we’re going to pick up right where we left off in Abu Dhabi,McLaren’s chief executive told Sky Sports.

“Sebastian Vettel is a four-time champion so while he didn’t have a great year last year, I think he’ll be on his A-game and highly motivated. We’ve got to watch all these guys.”

December 13, 2020, Abu Dhabi, Roma, United Arab Emirates: 05 VETTEL Sebastian (ger), Scuderia Ferrari SF1000, 16 LECLERC Charles (mco), Scuderia Ferrari SF1000, action during the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020, from December 11 to 13, 2020 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI / LM (Credit Image: © Dppi/LPS via ZUMA Press)

Back in the championship’s top three for the first time in eight years in 2020, McLaren have set their sights on further closing the gap to the front of F1’s field this year.

McLaren had replaced the traditional rivals Ferrari in the top three after the Italian marque slumped to sixth place amid their worst season for 40 years.

Asked if they were favorite to outperform the Scuderia in 2021, Brown replied: “We’ve got to focus on ourselves. We’re not just trying to beat Ferrari, we are trying to beat nine other teams. We had a great year last year, they struggled.

“I would be very surprised if they finished sixth again this year, I think that was probably a bit of a one-off. It’s a great team, they’ve got two very strong drivers so I think it’s going to be a very compressed field this year.”

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