McLaren eyeing major step with early season upgrade

McLaren is aiming to bring its first major upgrade to its 2024 car in the first third of the season, according to team principal Andrea Stella.

The team made clear when it launched its new car that there were still areas it was working on that would only be ready after the season had started, and that the car’s development would be important in the early stages. Stella says McLaren is almost able to get the maximum performance out of the car in its current state already, and set the timeline for the update package for a window that runs up to the Monaco Grand Prix in late May.

“I think there is margin to understand the car a little bit more,” Stella said. “[In Jeddah] we had a slightly different approach to set-up between the two cars and I think this is interesting with positives and negatives, so you want to gain this knowledge and use it for the future.


“I mean, apart from this optimization which is maybe worth about 0.1s – you cannot find any magic because we have done the test for three days, the two race weekends have had no rain, so we have been on track for a long time.

“I think we know the car well, apart from these little differences between the two cars that we will review, and I think it’s very much a matter of upgrades or the adaptation to the track in relation to the track characteristics. If you go to Suzuka, and you think Sector 1 is similar to Sector 1 [in Jeddah] and you think McLaren will be fast. So we expect Suzuka will be a good track for us.

“Otherwise it’s a battle of development, and there may be very visible developments where you come with an aerodynamic upgrade – which we will declare in the submissions and is very visible – or there are some other things that you can deliver from a mechanical or even aerodynamic point of view, and at the moment in the pipeline we have both.

“We have some minor things that will come for Australia and hopefully for Japan, but they will be a few milliseconds, and then hopefully within the first third of the season we will have a major upgrade.”

The Australian Grand Prix this weekend comes after the first non-race weekend of the season, but Stella says it is too early to commit to an upgrade package that is significant enough to justify the financial outlay.

“Delivering the upgrades nowadays, it doesn’t have very much to do with the logistics. The main challenge is do you bring upgrades to Sprint races or not? Because we have that in China or Miami for instance, where you only have Free Practice 1.

“But then you have another challenge which is the budget cap. You can’t put something into production as soon as you have something reasonable – you can’t do it like this because you would run out of budget. So you have to be convinced that this is going to be a good upgrade, and then you press the green button and you spend the money.

“And then the next reason why you don’t bring upgrades to Australia is it takes time to create a convincing package that is a significant step. We are very happy with our development rate – I think over the last 12 months we saw that our development rate kept the gradient – so we pressed the button for Austria last year, for Singapore, and then on the new car, and then it’s going to be for around race six or race seven.”

Story originally appeared on Racer