Unveiling the MCL60 on Monday, new McLaren team principal Andrea Stella admitted they’re “not entirely happy” with the car but are optimistic of a “good step soon”.
McLaren revealed a car that is more of an evolution than a revolution, the MCL60 not featuring any massive visible changes compared to the late-2022 McL36.
Continuing with the pullrod front suspension and pushrod rear suspension systems, the team has also carried over their sidepod layout from last season.
Stella, however, reckons they have addressed many of last year’s weaknesses.
“We have to say that assessing our performance last year and looking at competitors, we identified multiple areas of opportunities,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com.
“The good news is that pretty much all of them have been addressed. I wouldn’t want to be too specific, but certainly they have to do predominantly with the aerodynamics.
“Aerodynamics is the name of the game in F1, so no mystery.”
But, he admits, the team is already banking on early-season development.
“There’s some areas, for instance, interaction with the tyres, there’s some work that we needed to do and this was done over the winter,” he continued.
“There’s some areas of the car that will be interested by development in the early stage of the season. We are happy – not entirely happy for what is the launch car – but optimistic that it should take a good step soon.”
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Last season McLaren lost fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship to Alpine, Stella conceding it may not be easy to regain given McLaren were a “little late” in realising what needs to be developed with the 2023 car.
“It’s always difficult to translate what you see over the winter in terms of development into where you’re going to be in terms of pecking order,” he said.
“But, we try to relate this to ourselves and I think while we are happy with the development of the car in most of the areas, there is some areas which we realised a little late into the development some really strong directions.
“So, not necessarily we will be able to capitalise these directions in the very short term, and that’s why I also talk about the developments coming just after the start of the season.”
He expects McLaren will have the first big upgrade for the MCL60 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, “that may coincide with race four.
“So in this sense, I just invoke realism.
“In a way, it’s more relative to ourselves but it’s such a competitive game that I would be surprised if – normally you need to be totally happy and totally at the top of what you can do to achieve your targets let’s say – that’s why we talk about realism.”
But the goal is to at least play amongst the top four teams this season.
“Over the course of the season, we would like to establish ourselves as part of the top four,” he concluded.
“We know realistically that with the top three teams, there may be potential just to be in the fourth best car over the course of the season. We are realistic in the very short term.
“There’s good developments already in the pipeline that should land trackside very early in season.
“This should allow us to take a decent step forward, [but] we are not naïve.”