McLaren boss on how new regs allowed Red Bull to create such an advantage

Michelle Foster
McLaren driver Lando Norris handed his steering wheel. Bahrain February 2023

McLaren driver Lando Norris handed his steering wheel. Bahrain February 2023

Although Formula 1 bosses believe they’d “rule-busted” innovation out of the new ground effect aerodynamic regulations, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella admits there’s more scope to play around than teams thought, especially when it comes to the floor.

And that, he reckons, is where Red Bull have found their advantage.

Introducing a new era of ground effect aerodynamic cars last season, then F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn revealed his team had done several rounds of “rule-busting” to ensure none of the teams could find one trick that would give them a massive advantage over their rivals.

Cutting out the grey areas in the regulations, there were concerns that Formula 1 would have 20 very similar cars on the grid but they were anything but.

From Mercedes zero-pods to Ferrari’s baby bath-style sides and Red Bull’s cut-outs, many of the teams displayed different innovations. But while some of those have begun to converge, several teams drawing inspiration from Red Bull’s F1 car with their 2023 models, the Milton Keynes squad remains in a league of their own.

That, Stella believes, is because there’s a lot more performance that can be exploited with the new generation floors and their vortexes. recommends

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“I have to admit, and I think most teams should admit the same, that before the new generation of cars touched the ground, we thought that the regulations were quite restrictive,” Stella said as per

“But interestingly, as soon as you start the journey, you realise there’s a lot of performance, especially on the floor. This ground effect can be exploited from a technical point of view beyond what I think anybody in Formula 1 would have anticipated.

“If you see the level of sophistication of the geometries, you may see on some cars, especially possibly in the parts facing the ground, so not necessarily very visible, and the complexity of the flow field, and the vertical structures that you want to generate under the car, then these went beyond what the regulations would have expected.

“That’s from a technical point of view, a fascinating journey.”

And it’s only that has seen Red Bull emerge as the team to beat.

The team’s designers are led by Adrian Newey, who has past experience with ground effect aerodynamics and the complex vortexes that are used.

That has given Red Bull a huge boost, one that isn’t easy for their rivals to copy.

“From a spectacle point of view it means that whoever does a better job, like Red Bull is doing at the moment, can gain a consistent competitive advantage beyond what could have been anticipated,” Stella added.

“So there’s technical reasons why that is, and ultimately means there’s a premium for those who do a better job than the others.”