McLaren boss stresses ‘urgent work’ needed ahead of critical post-break Grand Prix

Thomas Maher
McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the British Grand Prix.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the British Grand Prix.

After struggling for outright performance in dry conditions at Spa-Francorchamps, Andrea Stella has admitted “urgent” work is required before an upcoming race…

While McLaren’s performance level has risen considerably in recent races, following the introduction of an upgrade package that has transformed the MCL60, a remaining weakness remains in the area of low-drag performance.

This weakness came to the forefront at Spa. After a strong Sprint race in mixed conditions, Stella had outlined fears for the dry Grand Prix – fears that were proven correct as Lando Norris fell out of the top 10 early on on pure pace, recovering later on to seventh thanks to a brave soft tyre call.

Andrea Stella: Belgian weekend gave McLaren a reality check

With low-drag performance not an area that was concentrated on by McLaren during their upgrade process, their weakness at Spa is something that has Stella very concerned ahead of the Italian Grand Prix in September.

Traditionally the circuit with the lowest-downforce wings required by the F1 cars, due to its incredible high-speeds, the McLaren team boss believes the weaknesses need fixing as a matter of “urgency”.

“I think this weekend [Belgium] told us that, where we could do work, we have definitely improved,” he told media, including, following the race.

“I think, independently of the rear wing choice, we would have been very strong in the second sector even with less rear wing – the car is improved in some areas, this was confirmed, we take the benefit like, for instance, in being able to do that stint [on the softs].

“But, at the same time, this weekend confirmed that the areas that we haven’t addressed yet give us a reality check that there’s more work to do, and to some extent confirm that those areas need to be addressed quite urgently.

“This urgency, for instance, comes from the fact that the second race after the shutdown is Monza. You can’t go racing in Monza like this, so there’s urgent work that needs to happen at McLaren to fix the situation.” recommends

Revealed: The contract status of every single race on the F1 2023 calendar

Lewis Hamilton car collection: Take a closer look at his incredible private garage

What can McLaren do to improve low-drag weakness?

While the upgrade package introduced to the MCL60 throughout the middle part of the season has resulted in a clear step forward, the relatively few low-drag situations meant it wasn’t an area of concentration for the Woking-based squad.

But, with an apparently strong package for the majority of circuits, the weakness of low-drag is now a priority, but Stella said it’s not as simple as merely drawing up a new configuration beam or rear wing, although their current rear wing does leave a lot of room for improvement.

“The underlying level of drag is more than that,” he said.

“It has to do with the overall configuration of the car. I think, for instance, Red Bull, they have done a very good job of having a car that is low drag, independently of the rear wing.

“If I take our case specifically, the main opportunity is actually to keep working on the rear wing. This is something that was on our to-do list, but we’re not there yet. So I think the main opportunity for us is on the rear wing. But the overall impact on drag comes actually from the entire car.”

With the 2024 car an evolution of the current ’23 rules, Stella said there’s no need to back off from introducing upgrades to the MCL60 as he confirmed more new components will be rolled out over the remainder of the year.

“We’re working on some evolution of these concepts,” he said.

“We are definitely working on an evolution of this package so another round of bodywork and floor. We still have to sign this off, we have a few more days of work. If we are successful, then we will definitely attempt to bring it to one of the events soon after the shutdown.”

Read More: Lando Norris’ concerns over McLaren’s race execution addressed by team boss