McLaren’s Andrea Stella has outlined the reasons why he is reluctant to create performance expectations heading into 2024.
McLaren had a meteoric upward trajectory during 2023, with the Woking-based squad having had a slow start to the year with a troublesome MCL60.
But a path reset with a philosophy change through upgrades start from the Austrian Grand Prix created a different beast entirely, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri becoming consistent frontrunners – Piastri even managing a ‘race win’ when he won the Sprint in Qatar.
Andrea Stella: Data will be used to position the team for 2024
Having had such a good end to the season, with McLaren arguably the second-quickest team on the grid behind Red Bull – even if their final Constructors’ Championship position in fourth didn’t reflect their true pace – the hype machine has understandably been in overdrive.
Given it’s over 10 years since McLaren won a Grand Prix, the possibility of returning to the winners’ circle in 2024 doesn’t seem unimaginable – but team boss Andrea Stella said he has no desire to poke the flames of hope for the new season.
“Ultimately, the metrics you use to position yourself internally, and even externally, in Formula 1 is quite quantitative,” Stella explained to media, including PlanetF1.com after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when asked about how he’s managing expectations.
“You like to see what kind of progress you are making in the wind tunnel, in the computer simulations, and you know that a certain rate will mean you are two-tenths, half-a-second, seven-tenths better at the start of a season.
“Realistically, we know that if we want to retain our competitiveness going into next season, you need to have half a second in hand, otherwise, you are moving backward.
“It’s because you would have become steady and everyone is catching up, so we will look at the data, and then based on that, we will position the entire team internally and externally.
“Our philosophy is to be very fair to what we know. We don’t have to create false expectations because the reality will come to you in a violent way, and we don’t want to find ourselves in that position.
“At the same time, we don’t want to downplay too much and then find out we weren’t ready to fight at the front, and we didn’t make good decisions based on that.
“We will just stick to the data, be realistic and be honest. That is our philosophy.”
Andrea Stella: Restructuring was a ‘fundamental enabler’
With McLaren having gone through an extensive technical restructuring in 2023, with James Key ousted from his role as technical director in order to establish a triumvirate of technical directors overseeing different areas, Stella said this proved seismic to the team’s progress.
“The technical restructuring was a fundamental enabler, I would say,” he said.
“The restructure itself, as in in the new technical configuration, which includes three technical directors – two of them haven’t started yet (sic).
“We have Peter Prodromou in charge of aero, David Sanchez in charge of performance and concept, and Rob Marshall in charge of engineering and design (both Sanchez and Marshall took up their posts at McLaren at the beginning of January 2024 – editor).
“Effectively, this structure has given clarity on the responsibilities and has allowed us, which was essential in the short term, to restructure the aerodynamic department, putting Peter Prodromou in charge, assisted by Giuseppe Pesce, and these guys have been absolutely instrumental in setting the new direction for the design of the car from an aerodynamic point of view.
“This has been the enabler to unleash the talent that was already available at McLaren by giving a clear direction, making clear objectives, and trying to make sure that empowerment and enthusiasm is the foundation of how we deal with people.
“This has been instrumental and I’ve always reiterated the same concepts when it comes to how the turnaround has been possible, and we are trying to get into the future, and in addition to that, we have Rob Marshall and David Sanchez starting in January.”