Zak Brown believes McLaren’s upcoming developments for its MCL60 will ensure that the team enjoys a strong run over the summer and in the second half of the season.
It’s been a disappointing campaign year-to-date for McLaren, with team papaya’s results falling short of expectations and leaving it fifth in F1’s Constructors’ standings ahead of this week’s Monaco Grand Prix.
From the outset, team principal Andrea Stella has been happy with the status of team papaya's MCL-60, suggesting at the team's presentation back in February that the car's development should have been further along than where it was at the time of its unveiling.
Since, small updates have been implemented on the car, but overall McLaren’s contender suffers from its relatively poor aerodynamic efficiency, meaning it is producing too much drag for a set downforce level.
Furthermore, Brown says that high temperature environments such as Miami further way on the MCL60’s performance. But the American sees a step up in form, this weekend in Monaco and next month in Canada.
Thereafter, McLaren’s scheduled upgrades should kick in and further boost the car’s form.
"I think race cars can be temperamental in their characteristics, and obviously all the great race cars are good in all conditions," Brown explained of the car's performance fluctuations on a recent F1 Nation podcast.
"We have a car that doesn't like a lot of heat, we were kind of limited in Miami as it was hot and it was a new circuit, so it lacked some grip as a new circuit would.
"Miami was a circuit kind of like Bahrain that just doesn't suit our car.
"Obviously, when we get a better car, you want to smooth out where your highs and lows are and have a better average.
"Monaco will be better, we feel good about Montreal, and we'll start having some more significant developments coming around Austria and the British Grand Prix, so hopefully we are on track for a strong second half of the year."
Unfortunately, McLaren’s relative underperformance has forced the Woking-based outfit to revise its 2023 objectives. The team now sees fifth in the championship as its end-of-season target, behind Red Bull, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes.
"We would have liked to have been top four in the championship, but by the time we catch up to their speed, they will have pulled out a gap in the points that will probably be too big to overcome," Brown said.
"So in reality, we are in a fight for fifth with Alpine, and the others aren't very far behind.
"Our goal is to be mixing it up inside the top four by the end of the year, but given the head start [of McLaren’s rivals] and slow start we've had, to actually get fourth in the points will probably be a tall order.
"We're fighting for fifth, and then our goal is to be racing inside the top four by the end of the year and then putting a better car out at the start of next year."
This weekend, Brown will be absent from Monaco, the McLaren boss overseeing the team's four-car effort in the Indianapolis 500 with Felix Rosenqvist, Pato O'Ward, Alexander Rossi and veteran Tony Kanaan.