Stella confident McLaren can carry momentum into 2024

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. 23.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images
© XPB 

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is feeling confident that the squad will be able to continue its rate of improvement into the new season, and emerge as a chief rival to the teams at the top including Red Bull.

McLaren had a terrible start to last year's campaign after admitting it had missed a key opportunity presented by the technical rules and regulations that others had jumped on.

But they quickly addressed the oversight with upgrade packages that came on stream from the Austrian GP with more big changes introduced at Singapore, meaning that their performance jumped over the summer through into the autumn

Having been sixth after eight Grands Prix and 137 points behind Aston Martin with Fernando Alonso coining in podiums every race, McLaren finished the season in fourth as 'best of the midfield teams' and with a 22 point lead over Aston.

Stella intends to pick up where they left off this season, with a flying start and no stuttering start and lost ground to overcome this time, promising that there was plenty more performance ot come from the MCL38.

“I would say in terms of the regulations themselves and the development we are having specifically at McLaren, it seems like the kind of linear gradient of development can be maintained.

“So far I have to say we don’t see the diminishing returns," Stella said at the unveiling of this year's livery. "This obviously will have to be proven once we put the car on the ground.

"When it comes to the wind tunnel development or CFD development, we see that the gradient we established last year that led to the Austria development and then the Singapore development - it seems we can maintain it.

Andrea Stella (ITA) McLaren Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference. 01.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Staley / XPB Images

“We are already starting to work on the further developments that we hope to bring in relatively soon in-season, and they also seem to be quite interesting," he continued.

“It could be there’s some areas of the car you realise maybe the investment here is not worthwhile, but so far, we have not found it.

"What we are looking at very carefully is to make sure we’re in condition to cash in these performance opportunities that do seem to be available.

“You look at the car, suspension, tyres, aerodynamics - they all still have quite a lot to offer in these generation of regulations

“This is reflected in numbers, so we can’t fool ourselves," he added. "We need to see these numbers go up.

"Right now it’s what we seem to be finding in development, but it’s a slightly different story when it comes to competitiveness on track as this depends on what the opposition has done.”

Front wing detail of 2024 McLaren livery © McLaren

© McLaren

Stella said that the off-season effort had been boosted by the arrival of new technical senior staff members David Sanchez and Rob Marshall from Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

"They come with quite a lot of knowledge - no surprise, they’ve been part of great teams, great projects,” Stella said. "The good thing is we see this integrates with our knowhow."

Like other team principals, Stella said a big challenge this year was in working not only the 2024 car but how to roll over development into the 2025 model as well, while simultaneously preparing for a major overhaul to the rules in 2026.

"There’s so much work that we need to go through," he said, adding that the team's new hires "mean we have the capacity, the capability, the competence to approach these three big projects with the horsepower needed to compete at the top of F1.”

Although not officially confirmed, the livery event suggested that the public unveiling of this year's new McLaren will take place on February 14, the same day as Mercedes, just a week before pre-season testing in Bahrain.

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