Former Mercedes chief executive Nick Fry has cast doubt on McLaren’s ability to challenge Red Bull for the F1 2024 World Championship, claiming the team must be “realistic about their evolution.”
McLaren are aiming to take the fight to the reigning champions this year after recovering from a slow start to 2023 to emerge as the most consistent threat to Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
Lando Norris equalled his best-ever F1 result of second on six occasions last season, with rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri impressively holding off Verstappen to win the Qatar sprint race.
McLaren urged to keep ‘realistic’ expectations in F1 2024
With the team’s long-awaited new wind tunnel up and running and the likes of Rob Marshall and David Sanchez arriving from Red Bull and Ferrari respectively, McLaren are expected to be on an upward trajectory in the run up to F1’s next major rules reset in 2026.
Yet Fry, who oversaw Mercedes’ transition from Honda via Brawn GP, believes McLaren are not yet in a position to challenge Red Bull on a consistent basis, claiming it took some time for Mercedes to optimise their facilities.
Yet he feels the team are on the right path under team boss Andrea Stella, with McLaren making wiser decisions now compared to the Ron Dennis era.
He told OLBG: “I believe that McLaren will continue to improve. I hope they’re in a position to win races.
“I’m not sure if they’re good enough to consistently beat Red Bull or Ferrari yet. I think that’s a stretch.
“McLaren have to be realistic about their evolution. They’ve got a very experienced team principal in Andrea Stella who is calm, sensible and understands the step a team needs to go through to win.
“Some of the investments made at Mercedes, like the world-class wind tunnel, were done in my day. The wind tunnel was built around 2005 or 2006, so it has been contributing for a very long time.
“McLaren are starting to invest in some of those facilities, but it should have happened a long time ago.
“Instead of having [renowned architect] Norman Foster design their [factory] building, they could have invested in better engineering equipment.
“That was the decision made a long time ago and fortunately the McLaren owners have understood and have invested in those things now. They will be a good investment for the future.
“I have my fingers crossed for them this season, but it’s a stretch to believe they can beat Red Bull. I think they’ll still dominate.”