McLaren confirm ‘a kind of a B-spec car’ as part two of three major upgrades

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris leaves the McLaren pit box. Bahrain March 2023.

Lando Norris heads out of his pit box from one of his six stops during the race. Bahrain March 2023.

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has announced there’ll be three major upgrades for McLaren’s MCL60 this season with part two, billed as “a kind of B-spec car”, arriving before the summer break.

Stuck at the bottom of the championship log, one of only two teams yet to score a point this season, McLaren admitted from the get-go they’d misread the massive impact this year’s new floor regulations would have on the car.

While the drivers have insisted the car is a small step forward, it was by no means the car they wanted as it is lacking in downforce and aerodynamic grip.

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato

The team, having recently undergone a restructuring that saw technical director James Key leave the team with immediate effect, responding with a “kind of B-spec car”  that will be on the track at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

That will be the first of three major upgrades planned for this season.

“The improvement of car performance issues should start in Baku,” Stella told the media, including, in Australia.

“The improvement in Baku should affect an area of the car that it has been clear that – I think from the presentation of the car – we weren’t entirely happy with in terms of development.

“It’s just the first step, we would expect definitely another major upgrade, which will interest more areas of the car.

“It will be much more apparent, what some may call like kind of a B-spec car. And then we expect to have a further round of upgrades in the second part of the season after the shutdown.

“So, we have three main steps: Baku, later on – I don’t want to commit to any date – before shutdown, and then after shutdown.

“And we hope that each of them will be able to provide a few tenths of a second, so that we put ourselves in a more realistic position to meet our ambition to become a top-four car towards the end of the season.

“The model changes, which I prefer to call it rather than structure, affect this delivery of performance because it will accelerate the development rate.

“We will see the impact already not in Baku, obviously, because what comes in Baku was released in design like two months ago, but definitely it will impact the next round of upgrades.” recommends

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McLaren’s first big change took place in December when the team said farewell to team boss Andreas Seidl and replaced him with Stella. Now Key has parted ways with former Ferrari engineer David Sanchez coming in.

Sanchez will work alongside Peter Prodromou, who moves into the role of Technical Director of Aerodynamics with Neil Houldey promoted into the newly created role of Technical Director of Engineering and Design.

Stella spoke about not wanting to be in a position where the “one in charge sets an upper limit on the ideas one can generated” with McLaren CEO Zak Brown added that he too “wasn’t happy with the pace of the development of the racing car.

“That was the second half of last year, if you’re going to look at the pace of development of some of the other teams where they started and where they ended, versus where we started and where we ended. So, you start having conversations.

“Of course, we had a team principal change towards the end of the year, which allowed me the opportunity to be more aggressive in working with Andrea, to give him the mandate to take a look at the team. And that’s exactly what he did.

“Him having been there meant he wasn’t starting from ground zero, and ultimately came up with a model that makes total sense to us and those internally, and went about starting to put those plans in place.

“So when we made the announcement, that’s something that had been in works for some time and was coincidental to our poor start to the season.”