Stella resisting heightened 'expectations' for McLaren for 2024


After the team's rapid rise up the standings over the course of 2023, there's a buzz around McLaren in the F1 paddock about what they might be able to achieve in the new season.

The team failed to score in the first two races this year and was only sixth place and 137 points behind Aston Martin after the eighth race of the season in Canada.

But in the final standings McLaren was up to fourth place, finishing 22 points ahead of Aston, after becoming the in-form team on the grid over the summer and autumn behind Red Bull.

That's raised expectations about what McLaren will do next season if they're able to make a better start the the campaign and then maintain their rapid rate of development over the course of the year.

However team principal Andrea Stella is cautious about making prediction and doesn't want anyone getting over-excited, being all too aware about how reality can bite.

"We don't have to create false expectations because then reality comes to you in a violent way and we don't want to find ourselves in this position," Stella insisted.

"At the same time we don't want to downplay too much and then find we weren't ready to fight at the front and we didn't make good decisions because of that," he warned.

"So just stick with the data, be realistic, be honest, that's our philosophy," he said. "Ultimately in F1 we have the luxury of it being quite quantitative.

"Realistically we know that if you want to retain your competitiveness going into next season, you need to have half a second in hand.

"You see what kind of progress you are making in the wind tunnel and the computer simulations and you kind of know that a certain rate will mean two tenths, half a second, seven tenths better at the start of the season.

"Otherwise it's like what we have seen at the end of a season: it looks like you're moving backwards, but it's just because you are steady and everyone is catching up.

"So we will first of all look at the data. We already know pretty much this data, which I won't comment on, and based on that we will position the entire team internally and externally.

McLaren's form did seem to slacken in the final races as work at the team's headquarters turned to developing next year's car. It left them vulnerable to a late resurgence from Aston, but ultimately they had enough left to clinch P4.

(L to R): Andrea Stella (ITA) McLaren Team Principal with Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director. 19.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Preparation Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

"The way I structure the season is we started uncompetitive, took a step in Austria, another step in Singapore," said Stella, who took over as McLaren team principal from Andreas Seidl at the start of the year.

"But there's a final phase of the season in which we have been steady from a development point of view," he acknowledged.

"Many cars brought upgrades, some of which proved quite successful, so it was a phase in which it's not like we degraded our performance, but that simply some other cars closed the gap on us or even overtook us.

"If we want to enjoy some of the results we enjoyed in this third phase after Singapore, we definitely have to make a further step forward going on to next season."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter