Aggressive McLaren ‘bringing stuff every race’ with ambitious F1 2024 target set

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri ahead of a Mercedes during Bahrain testing.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri ahead of a Mercedes.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the MCL38 showed good one-lap and race pace in Bahrain testing and with the aid of updates at “every race”, expectations have been set accordingly.

McLaren were the surprise package of 2023, their MCL60 starting life well off the pace, but transformed into a competitive racing machine which facilitated nine podium finishes and a sprint win by the end of the campaign.

Expectations of McLaren are understandably high then heading into F1 2024, with Brown confident after the three-day Bahrain test that they are primed to at least pick up where they left off in the chasing pack behind Red Bull, which last season McLaren shared with Mercedes and Ferrari.

McLaren aiming for victories in F1 2024

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

In-season development was McLaren’s critical strength last year, so with the plan being to “bring stuff to every race”, Brown has set the goal of winning in F1 2024, ideally more than once.

“[It was] certainly a lot better than last year’s test,” said Brown, as per RacingNews365.com.

“We learned a lot about the car. We had a few issues here and there, but I suspect everyone in the pit lane did.

“That’s what testing is for, to understand where you might have some weak points.

“It looks like we’ve got good one-lap pace, we’ve got good race pace. I’m never quite sure what everyone else was up to.

“It’s a general sense that we’re pretty competitive and it feels like we’re there or thereabouts to where we finished last year, which is what we wanted coming into this year.

“Hopefully, the developments we have will continue to work, which I’m sure they will. Everything we’re seeing in the development right now continues to look good.

“I think hopefully we can stay on the development pace that we’re on and if a team or two blinks, then maybe we can turn one of those six second [place results] we had last year, nine podiums, into one of those top steps which is certainly the ambition that we have.

“We’ll be bringing stuff every race but we’ll have our fair share of significant upgrades over the year – your wings, your floors, your bodywork – as we did last year.

“I don’t see any reason why the development curve can’t continue as it is. It was a good test and we’re looking forward to the race next weekend.”

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While Ferrari set the pace in F1 2024 Bahrain testing, the widely-held belief in the paddock is that reigning three-time World Champion Max Verstappen will continue to lead the way as a fresh season gets underway.

McLaren driver Lando Norris backed that view by admitting that while the MCL38 represents a step forward, it will not be enough to start out battling Red Bull, or Ferrari for that matter.

“Do I think we’ve taken a step forward? Absolutely,” Norris told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher in Bahrain. “Do I think we’ve made a lot of things better? Yes.

“I think we’re in a good position, we had a decent car at the end of last season and I think we’ve definitely taken some steps in the right direction, but I think [we are] still a very long way behind Red Bull and a long way behind Ferrari still.”

Norris signed a new contract with McLaren ahead of the F1 2024 campaign, keeping him with the team beyond 2025.

Read next: Lando Norris explains key motive behind McLaren stay despite ‘opportunities coming’