McLaren ‘nervous’ about parts with three F1 races in nine days looming

Henry Valantine
Oscar Piastri leads McLaren team-mate Lando Norris in the grand prix. Saudi Arabia March 2023

McLaren driver Oscar Piastri leads his team-mate Lando Norris in the grand prix. Saudi Arabia March 2023

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has admitted being “nervous” about the prospect of three races in nine days, and the parts needed for them if any damage occurs.

Formula 1’s return in Azerbaijan next weekend will also be the first sprint round of the season, meaning there will be an extra shortened race for the drivers to navigate before the 6,000-mile trip to Miami the following weekend in the sport’s first double-header of the season.

While it presents a big logistical challenge for the teams, it also brings with it a task for the drivers to get through the weekends unscathed as the season comes into an extremely busy time – with five races in the next six weekends.

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato

With spare parts believed to be an issue for the teams up and down the grid as they look to bring upgrades to their cars, the McLaren team boss admitted they are worried about how the additional sprints may affect their workload in Baku.

But with that, Stella said his team back the idea of having sprints in Formula 1, and their job is to “adapt” to the demands they place on the teams, within the realms of the budget cap.

“Yeah, nervous,” McLaren team principal Stella admitted to media including PlanetF1.com when asked if the prospect of the Baku sprint and the subsequent double header made him worried about the supply of parts available to the teams.

“At the same time, we are supportive of increasing the spectacle through the sprint races. Somehow, we have to adapt.

“There’s also conversations open with the FIA and F1, so this is a collaborative process.

“Ultimately, we’ll have to find the optimal point for the spectacle and support teams to manage parts and to manage the costs in the cost cap.”

When pressed specifically if McLaren themselves will be tight on spares for as and when the MCL60 is upgraded in the coming races, the team principal is not concerned about their situation in the immediate term.

“We go to Baku with already a sufficient number of parts, they will be backfilled for the following race anyhow, to elevate the quantity,” Stella confirmed.

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Parts a concern for all teams, not just McLaren

Eyebrows have already been raised at the prospect of a sprint taking place around Baku, given the fact it’s a street circuit for one, but that it also that it carries the narrowest point of any circuit on the Formula 1 calendar, around the city’s Fortress Wall.

With the scrambles for position often associated with the sprints, there are worries already in place about the safety of the shortened races taking place around Azerbaijan, with every penny for damage counting that little bit more in the sport’s budget cap era.

The rise from three sprints to six this season has seen the FIA and Formula 1 respond by raising the amount of budget allowed for the teams to run the extra sprints, but too much damage sustained will quickly wipe out any advantages in Baku.

Whatever happens in Azerbaijan, a sprint around the Baku City Circuit will be a step into the unknown for all the teams – but first and foremost on their minds will be that the drivers are able to navigate the shortened Saturday event safely.