McLaren reveal latest ‘substantial upgrades’ ahead of F1 2024 season

Thomas Maher
McLaren's Oscar Piastri racing in the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.

McLaren has outlined some of the upgrade work going on behind the scenes at their factory in Woking.

All eyes are on McLaren heading into the 2024 season to see whether the Woking-based team can land their first win since 2021.

McLaren has won just one race over the last 10 years, courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but they proved to be a revelation in 2023 as they turned a recalcitrant MCL60 into one of the quickest cars on the grid.

With no sign of that upward momentum petering out just yet, it means there’s huge anticipation and hype surrounding McLaren, and the team has just introduced some new upgrades to improve their facilities back at Woking.

McLaren introduces new equipment to their factory

Since opening in 2004, McLaren has been using the same equipment in their machine shop. But, as part of a series of upgrades to the McLaren Technology Centre, new machines have been procured in order to help with the speed at which parts can be created without any loss in accuracy or reliability.

The need for improvements in machining was identified as a priority to go alongside McLaren’s new simulator, the new composites facility, and the commissioning of their new wind tunnel.

Spencer Ford, head of machining and additive manufacturing, set about the project over 12 months ago, with UK-based Mills CNC brought on board as a supplier for the new equipment.

“We are in such a fast environment that the best solution isn’t always obvious, so to work with a supplier such as Mills CNC, where we can bounce ideas off each other, is really exciting,” said Ford of the improvements.

“We’ve only been working on this project since 2 January 2023, so it’s come together really quickly – we’ve been working flat out.

“When we handed over this suite of parts to look at, their team really dove into what our needs were and spent a lot of time trying to understand and service that. It has been really successful, and we’ve learned a lot from this, in terms of what we can do and how we can do it, which excited us.”

The new machinery will produce a wide range of parts that will be fitted to the 2024 McLaren car, with the new generation of machinery allowing the processes of manufacturing to be refined considerably.

“We’re already seeing an impact with some of these machines in terms of reliability and repeatability,” Ford continued.

“Some of the other machines, where parts are more complicated, we won’t see the impact until further down the line – six months plus.

“I would say that the new machinery could increase the speed of production by as much as 10 to 20 percent.

“If you imagine an older computer operating system versus the new one, it’s similar to that. It is just a lot faster. These give us so many new options and we’re excited to work out how to get the best of them, with the help of Mills CNC.” recommends

Who is Andrea Stella? From Michael Schumacher’s engineer to McLaren team principal

Zak Brown car collection: The legendary machines owned by the McLaren boss

Highlighting the ability to run their machinery to much higher tolerance limits than previously, Ford explained McLaren had previously needed to err on the side of caution when it came to the creation of new parts, due to being able to tell when their old machinery had reached the limit.

Replacing the machines for the first time since 2004, they’re expecting to play a big role in being better prepared for the wide-ranging regulation changes on the way for 2026 and will even allow for some processes to be brought back in-house after needing outsourcing.

“Going forward, we’ll be looking to change machines every eight to 10 years,” Spencer explained.

“We’ve gotten to a point where we realise it doesn’t make financial sense to keep them too long because the technology keeps improving. You want to be at the forefront of that because that is how we get back to the front of the grid and stay there.”

With the FIA granting increased capital expenditure (CapEx) for all the teams after some lobbying from the smaller teams, McLaren’s allowance for 2021-’24 inclusive was increased by $13 million to a total figure of $58 million.

Read Next: Williams make huge step with team ‘unlocked’ under James Vowles’ leadership