McLaren boss warns of ominous ‘big step’ from title favourites Red Bull

Sam Cooper
Red Bull’s RB20 during pre-season testing.

Red Bull’s RB20 already looks like the car to beat in 2024.

Any fears that 2024 could be another dominant year for Red Bull have not been eased by the words of McLaren boss Andrea Stella, who said the Milton Keynes side had made a “big step” after the second day of pre-season testing.

Although it was Ferrari, not Red Bull, that topped the times on Thursday, the RB20 again looked like the challenger to beat as Sergio Perez completed the full day of running.

Aside from a brake pad fire issue, Red Bull ticked off another day of tests and the progress they made has worried their rivals further down the grid.

McLaren boss warns of Red Bull’s ‘big step’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

McLaren’s day was not so smooth with Lando Norris’ running truncated due to a fuel issue, but speaking after the session Stella, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on Thursday, warned that Red Bull looked a “big step” ahead.

“I can see that many cars have made the step forward, which is normal,” he told media including “Everyone finds performance in every week of development.

“There’s one car that seems to have found a big step. Unfortunately, [it is] the car that was already the quickest last year.

“I would say the group was already quite competitive last year and to me it looks even more competitive compared to this year. So that’s what we’ve learned from our competitiveness point of view.”

As for that fuel system issue, Stella detailed that it was easily fixed but disrupted their race simulation run. recommends

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“We had to check something in the fuel tank this afternoon,” the McLaren boss confirmed. “We were starting a race simulation but actually, we needed to stop the race simulation.

“So we didn’t bring this achievement on today because we needed to get into the fuel system, we changed some parts, and the car was in condition to go again. So a little setback but we have identified it and we will look into the exact reason for it.

“In terms of reports from the two days, I would say that starting from a performance point of view, the car delivers what we expected. So no big surprises, which in itself is some good news, because there’s some elements of innovation in the car so definitely, we wanted to see how they would have worked trackside and they seem in line with expectations.

“So the car is a good foundation for development. It is a step forward compared to last year’s car.”

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