McLaren to bring Jeddah and Melbourne updates before big Baku package

Sam Cooper
Lando Norris drives the McLaren MCL60. Bahrain, March 2023.

Lando Norris in action at the wheel of the McLaren MCL60. Bahrain, March 2023.

Andrea Stella has confirmed upgrades are on their way for McLaren after their disappointing performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

McLaren find themselves bottom of the Constructors’ Championships having lost one car to an engine issue and had another finish last of the classified runners after a pneumatics problem required six pit stops in Bahrain.

It followed on from an unimpressive showing in pre-season testing, with concerns being raised that McLaren would fail to challenge for their stated P4 target for this season.

The year is still young though with just one of the scheduled 23 races completed and team principal Stella has confirmed “minor” upgrades are on their way before the first major upgrade package in Baku.

“There’s some minor upgrades that [will] come already in Saudi [Arabia] and in Australia,” Stella told media including PlanetF1.com. “So there are little things [that] are ready for the next couple of races.

“Not necessarily very noticeable but should have some performance here and there and then the first major upgrades will be in Baku.”

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Time is on McLaren’s side but still a mountain to climb

Having secured P3 in 2020, McLaren’s performance has been on a gradual slide since then. A move to P4 in 2021 was always expected with Ferrari’s return to some sense of form but it will have been 2022 that provided the most concern for those within the McLaren Technology Centre.

At a time when the new regulations were expected to shuffle the pack, McLaren found their car heading down the order. Losing out to P4 by an Alpine whose current trajectory is not too dissimilar from McLaren’s a few years ago but now 2023 looks as if again, the eight-time Constructors’ champion have slid further down the pack.

The MCL36 proved a difficult car to extract the best out of and from the early stages, there is every sign to suggest that the MCL60 is a just as difficult younger brother.

Lando Norris highlighted difficulties with balance and downforce, suggesting he knew their season start would be tough three months before the cars even took to track, and considering the budget cap, there is no quick and easy fix right now.

With 22 races to go, time is on McLaren’s side but given the development arms race that still exists, but albeit at less of an explosive rate post cost-cap, they must find solutions soon before they find themselves out of the hunt.