McLaren targets top four return with 2023 F1 car
McLaren has set its sights on a top-four finish in the F1 Constructors’ Championship this year, but says it may take several races before the full potential of its new car is realized.
The new MCL60, which breaks McLaren’s naming convention of recent years to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the team’s founding by Bruce McLaren, was launched on Monday at the team’s British factory in Woking.
The new car appears to be a development from last year’s McLaren MCL36, which finished fifth in the 2022 standings behind rivals Alpine.
Lando Norris will be playing for the team for the fifth season, along with newcomer Oscar Piastri, who will replace Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
New team principal Andrea Stella is hopeful that McLaren will move up the rankings by at least one position this year, but warned that some of the car’s potential will not be unlocked until end-of-season updates are made.
“I think it’s fair to say that as the season goes on, we would like to be in the top four,” said Stella. “In fact, we understand that the top three teams have the potential to become the fourth best car as the season progresses.
“We are realistic in the very short term, there are already good developments that should be on the track very soon this season and should allow us to take a worthy step forward.
“We are not naive, we know that almost every team will say the same thing: “we have good developments” and so on. As I said, we also have higher level developments in the team.”
Stella explained that some areas of development were not revealed early enough to reach the carrier machine, but will offer a step up with a service pack after the first four rounds.
“I think that while we are happy with the development of the car in most areas, there are some areas that we realized a little later in the development of some really strong directions,” he said.
“Therefore, it is not necessarily that we will be able to benefit from these directions in the very short term, and therefore I am also talking about the events that will take place immediately after the start of the season.
“So in that sense, I’m just calling for realism. In a way, it’s more about us, but it’s such a competitive game that I’d be surprised if you usually have to be completely happy and completely on top of what you can do. say, to achieve your goals – that’s why we talk about realism.”
Later this year, a new wind tunnel will be built at the team’s factory that CEO Zach Brown hopes will put McLaren back on top of the grid by 2025.
Stella said the recent infrastructure investment will have a bigger impact on next year’s car than this year’s car, but emphasized the importance of the new facility to the team’s progress.
“The benefits of having infrastructure are a long wave and pay off over a long time,” he said. “As the new infrastructure will be implemented immediately, realistically we should see the impact on the 2024 car.
“It would be very difficult to influence the 23rd, because by then you will already be quite focused on the 24th.
“So let’s say 50 percent of the benefits [is] at the beginning of 24 years [season]and 100% of the profits come from the development of Season 24 next year.”