MCL38 innovations fears eased as fresh McLaren ‘favourite’ prediction drops

Michelle Foster
McLaren launch the MCL38.

McLaren launched the MCL38 on Wednesday, followed by a shakedown at Silverstone.

McLaren may not have had all their innovations on the car at the time of the launch, but Bernie Collins isn’t worried as she’s expecting a “very different” MCL38 come the end of pre-season testing.

McLaren unveiled their 2024 challenger, the MCL38, a week ago but it was by no means the finished product, said team boss Andrea Stella.

“There are a number of innovations on the car, but not all the areas we want to address have been completed for our launch-spec car,” he revealed. “Those areas now become the focus of our in-season development, which is already in progress.”

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That comment raised a few eyebrows as, last year, McLaren went into the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on the back foot having missed their pre-season targets.

Although they caught up during the season, arguably the most improved team, fans were left wondering if McLaren were once again in a negative situation.

Collins, a former Aston Martin strategist, says no as she believes McLaren just gave themselves more time in the wind tunnel before bringing parts to Bahrain for the three-day pre-season test.

“It depends a bit on what the upgrade is, we’ve not really got an indication of what they think is coming,” she told the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“In previous years, when we had the two tests of three days each, it would be very, very normal that the car that finished the test was very different to the car that started the test.

“I think the cars that are rolled out in testing will be different to what we’ve seen in the launches last week.

“Teams delay bringing upgrades, delay aero departments as much as they can so there’s two weeks maybe between components being ready and components being on the car, that makes a difference in terms of wind tunnel time. So I don’t think is necessarily a negative.

“And you know, even in these three days of testing the car on Day Three will be different to the car on Day One. recommends

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“Many reasons for that. We’ll start to take off sensors that we don’t need, the car gets a lot lighter over the test because Day One you have loads of stuff on there. They’re trying to check everything, you’re trying to check temperatures and pressures and lots going on.

“The car on Day Three will be different and people will still be bringing upgrades on Day Three of the test in advance of the race.

“So it’s not necessarily a negative and it is good to understand the car before you add these upgrades onto it.

“But we just don’t know what the upgrades are. So we don’t have a clear answer. But it sounds like they got stuff coming pretty quickly into the year which is good.”

Collins, in fact, reckons McLaren will be one of the favourites this season after last year’s huge strides forward.

“They’ve got to be a favourite given how they finished last year so let’s all hope they’re a lot closer to Red Bull,” she added.

McLaren secured nine podiums last season, including seven runner-up results, but fell short of a maiden Grand Prix win for either Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri. The latter, though, did win the Qatar Sprint with McLaren finishing the season P4 in the Constructors’ Championship.

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