McLaren boss teases ‘pretty noticeable’ changes with forthcoming upgrades

Henry Valantine
McLaren MCL38 in the garage.

The McLaren MCL38 is looking to power Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri to victories this season.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has hinted at “pretty noticeable” changes to come on the MCL38 as it evolves over the season.

McLaren made huge in-season developments on last year’s car, the MCL60, and moved from lower midfield runners to podium contenders in almost one fell swoop – and the team are not resting on their laurels this time around either.

McLaren boss hints at ‘noticeable’ MCL38 changes to come

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri started the season with a strong haul of points in Bahrain, having trundled around towards the back of the field at the same race last year.

This augurs well for the team moving forward, though Norris himself admitted that the team require “two big steps” to first catch Ferrari, and then Red Bull further up the road.

With a heavily congested pack behind those two teams, McLaren team boss Stella was questioned about the types of upgrades being brought to the car.

Having brought almost a B-spec car mid-season in 2023, Stella said there are other significant changes in the pipeline that will be visible to fans.

“I would say the mechanical stuff is more subtle, is more based on what we have learned on the car,” Stella explained to media including PlanetF1.com in Bahrain when asked about the kinds of changes being brought to the MCL38 this year.

“And then you realise that you need some ways of adjusting the balance, for instance, so you give yourself for more options from a set-up point of view, that’s the mechanical aspect.

“While from an aerodynamic point of view, you just add more efficiency, and that will be once again, pretty noticeable.”

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When comparing where McLaren were over the weekend compared to last season, Stella revealed that the team have taken an enormous leap forward in outright pace.

Bahrain has been a troublesome circuit for the team in recent years, but an analysis of their one-lap pace shows just how much they have improved in 12 months.

“We did a speed overlay of qualifying in 2023 and qualifying in 2024, we went 1.8 seconds faster and we improved at every speed,” Stella said.

“Even in low speed, we are faster because we added downforce overall, but most of the downforce was added in the medium range.

“So the low speed still deserves some specific work, and this is what in particular the aerodynamic group are working on.

“I can’t add many more details but, yes, we added some downforce in low speed.

“But we see that there is more at stake with some specific work to get low speed grip. And even if a Formula 1 car is at 80kph still, there’s quite a lot of load generated aerodynamically and that still remains the key variable for low speed grip.”

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