McLaren team principal Andrea Stella reveals there are already promising signs for the team’s 2024 development.
At this stage of the year, McLaren is capturing the majority of F1 headlines. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri secured another double-podium at the Losail International Circuit, underscoring the team’s fantastic leap mid-season.
When the year began, the MCL60 was limited in almost all areas. Excessive drag and lousy top speed were among the most obvious weaknesses. The first large-scale updates in Austria largely resolved this area, with the next set of changes targeted at improving low-speed performance.
The team’s competitiveness in Singapore, Suzuka and Qatar proves that McLaren now enjoys a well-rounded machine. Moving into next season, these strong foundations will be essential.
For almost every team in 2023 – aside from Red Bull – resources have been diverted into correcting past mistakes. Most of next year’s machines will converge towards Red Bull’s overall concept. Major recalibrations at Ferrari and Mercedes forced both teams to make short-term sacrifices.
Confidence in 2024 success
For McLaren, however, these setbacks have largely been avoided. The team’s upgrades are both effective and predictable. Considering their transition to a new wind tunnel and dismissal of technical director James Key early in the season, this is an impressive feat.
Speaking to the media, team principal Andrea Stella has explained why his team’s development rate can carry into 2024:
“We started testing in the new wind tunnel only with the new car for next year. So everything we see here is being developed in that wind tunnel. And obviously, has been developed in the CFD.
“Let’s say we are happy with the correlation we have, in terms of development tools and what we have here trackside.
“The early runs in the new MTC wind tunnel, with the new car, have also been encouraging in terms of correlation with our CFD expectation.
“And also with what we could see with some models that we used as a test in both environments, to see how well they were correlating.
“Even in this case, we found good results. So I think we are in a good place.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 8, 2023
Red Bull within touching distance
Last winter, Aston Martin made the biggest jump in development. Whilst impressive, their early results can also be attributed to mistakes at Ferrari and Mercedes.
Ahead of next season’s campaign, there are several teams within striking range of Red Bull. This is not to say that Christian Horner’s team won’t begin the 2024 season as an overwhelming favourite. It is no accident they have won consecutive F1 World titles.
However, all it takes is for Ferrari, Mercedes or McLaren to make significant gains to give the Austrian team something to worry about. As it stands, the papaya outfit has fewer question marks than its immediate competitors.
McLaren can be confident their updates will work – which is not something Ferrari or Mercedes can say. Piastri was only 5 seconds behind Max Verstappen last weekend, a near-miracle given where the team was in early Spring.
Typically, taking steps to progress in the long term requires short-term sacrifice. This hasn’t been the case for Andrea Stella’s personnel, who are equally well-positioned for next season as they are for 2026.