McLaren targets early F1 2024 upgrades in three key areas

On Wednesday morning McLaren launched its 2024 challenger online, before conducting a rainy filming day at Silverstone.

Last year’s predecessor, the MCL60, was revealed to muted expectations after team boss Andrea Stella’s admission that the team had missed its launch targets and that a full mid-season overhaul was already in the works.

That revamp turned McLaren into the most improved team, climbing to fourth place, with this year’s MCL38 an evolution that aims to further improve on its main weaknesses: aerodynamic efficiency, mechanical grip in low-speed corners and how the car interacts with the tyres.

PLUS: Can McLaren’s evolutionary-but-innovative MCL38 deliver Norris’ first F1 win?

While Stella believes the team has made steps in all three areas, he says further upgrades are forthcoming after some projects were not ready in time for the Bahrain-specification car.

«We had three major objectives,» Stella explained. «One was to improve aerodynamic efficiency, the second one was to improve mechanical grip and the third one was to improve the interaction with the tyres.

«I wouldn’t want to give any proportion, but I would say that we’ve been able to improve in all these three areas, even though we see that there’s potential for further improvements in each of these three areas.

McLaren MCL38

McLaren MCL38

Photo by: McLaren

«There were a few projects that we had started, that had potential, but just we couldn’t finalise them in time to have it on the launch car, so they will very likely become updates for the early part of the season.»

When asked if McLaren had slipped behind schedule and if the MCL38 would have a similar scope as its eventually successful predecessor to receive significant performance upgrades, Stella replied: «I would say it’s not that the innovations didn’t make it, I think it’s more some development projects didn’t make it.

«But when you embark on some development projects, obviously you want to target them to deliver as soon as possible, but there’s full room in the way we have designed the car for these projects to land later onto the car.

«There are no restrictions from a layout point of view when some of them become available. So, it’s just a matter of the time required for projects to mature, and then be ready to be delivered.»

McLaren’s impressive development curve since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix ended up yielding seven podiums for Lando Norris and two for Oscar Piastri in one of the strongest in-season recoveries by a team to date.

Stella is hopeful that the Woking squad will be able to «keep the trajectory» throughout 2024 by continuing to push out updates before either running out of ideas or budget allowance.

McLaren MCL38 detail

McLaren MCL38 detail

Photo by: McLaren

«Once we put the car on the ground, we will see whether we can confirm that from a development point of view, we had a step which hopefully keeps the trajectory that we started last year in Austria and consolidated in Singapore.

«There is a budget cap and therefore you should carefully plan your upgrades, because it could be that you become budget-limited rather than development-limited.

«We will push as much as possible in development and then once parts or projects are mature, we will trigger the button and we will deliver these parts trackside and then at some stage, we will see if we become budget-limited or ideas and development limited.»

Additional reporting by Matt Kew

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