McLaren respond to Red Bull copying jibes after stellar British GP qualifying

Thomas Maher
McLaren's Andrea Stella at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella at the 2023 British Grand Prix.

McLaren’s Andrea Stella has reacted to comments from Lewis Hamilton that the MCL60 closely resembles a Red Bull.

McLaren are celebrating on Saturday night in Silverstone, having taken a season-best second and third place in qualifying at the British Grand Prix.

After a tough start to the year with a troublesome MCL60, the car has seen a comprehensive upgrade package introduced over the last two race weekends – upgrades that look like they’re paying off as the team have joined in the fight at the sharp end.

Andrea Stella reveals how Red Bull inspiration translated to upgrades

With McLaren proving the fastest Mercedes-powered team on Saturday at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff both made references to how the MCL60 now resembles the design of the dominant Red Bull RB19.

“If you just put it alongside a Red Bull, it looks very very similar down the side, so it’s working,” Hamilton said.

Wolff echoed his driver’s thoughts, saying: “I think from what you see from the outside, which is obviously only half the information, the car looks like a Red Bull.

“And as a matter of fact, to be honest, it doesn’t matter, because only the stopwatch counts.

“This kind of design seems to be a good direction, but this is easier said than done.

“I think each of us had bodyworks that were perfectly good in the tunnel and it didn’t come out in performance, so you’ve got to leave no stone unturned and maybe look at it again, because another team just found a second in performance.”

Speaking to media, including, on Saturday night at Silverstone, Stella was asked about the comments from the Mercedes camp and confirmed that McLaren had taken some inspiration from the RB19. recommends

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“Yes, like every team that takes inspiration from any other team,” he said.

“Teams are equipped to try and absorb IP from looking at the photos, from looking at the cars on display on Friday.

“So you do take inspiration from the other cars.

“But taking inspiration or even looking at the photos doesn’t mean that you copy the geometry, you install it in your CFD runs, in the computer simulation, or in a wind tunnel, and the car lights up in terms of downforce.

“Normally what happens is it goes down, because your car is already optimised around what you have done up until that point.

“The key element is understanding that some concepts add more potential that will allow you to develop faster and for longer.

“Here is where you need to have the right people in the right place and I think I would like to mention one name here – Peter Prodromou.

“He is leading the aerodynamic development at McLaren and is doing an exceptional job in terms of setting the conceptual direction but also having organised and inspired the entire aerodynamic group. So really well done to Peter.”

Did photos of Red Bull’s floor in Monaco help?

During the Monaco Grand Prix, the world was offered a detailed view of the floor of the RB19 after Sergio Perez crashed early in qualifying. While being craned away, the car was raised high into the air with photographers leaping to take as many high-quality images as they wanted.

Asked whether these photos had proven useful to McLaren during the upgrade process, Stella downplayed the significance of the intelligence gathered.

“I’m sure all teams got inspiration from looking at the Red Bull car, like they get inspiration from all the photos that all teams get off any other car,” he said.

“Pretty much all teams have their professional photographers that take as much opportunity as possible. And this is inspiration, you know, I would detract from our aerodynamic department if I said, ‘Oh, yeah, we saw that. Now we have the solution’.

“You see that and you get some, ‘Maybe you can do this’, but then you have to do your own job and your own iteration, otherwise you don’t get to something that actually works.”

As for whether or not McLaren are actually aiming to take the fight to the likes of Aston Martin and Red Bull with their cars somewhat out of position, Stella said the team will make that call based on how the pace plays out against their tyre longevity.

“On Sundays, you need to understand what battles to pick,” he said.

“Because, if you pick the wrong battle, in a way, you may use your budget of tyres too aggressively and then you’ll find yourself in trouble from a strategic point of view, for instance.

“So it will be important to understand what pace we can sustain in a way that we can also achieve a sensible race strategy and tyre life, for instance.

“So that’s absolutely something that pretty much all teams and drivers, they need to have a clear idea. Normally, though, you discover that during the race. For me now, it will be difficult to say what battle we are gonna take because we’ll have to see the pace tomorrow.”

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