Mercedes reveal the secret to McLaren’s rapid rise through F1 ranks

Sam Cooper
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri. F1 starting grid

McLaren driver Oscar Piastri drives past a camera during Qatar Grand Prix qualifying.

Mercedes’ James Allison has reportedly revealed where he believes the McLaren car is strong after it shot up the grid.

McLaren have been the turnaround team of 2023 having gone from having a cart that looked incapable of even finishing within the points to having one that is now regularly fighting for podiums.

While Red Bull are still one step ahead, McLaren’s improvement has given hope to other competitors that 2024 could be a more even contest.

Medium to high-speed corners proving to be McLaren’s strong suit

While McLaren’s improvement may have seemed like it took place overnight, it was actually months in the making with the staff at the MTC slightly overrunning in terms of when they thought the new package would be ready.

That package was eventually hurried through for Lando Norris in Austria before both drivers received the upgrades in Silverstone and Mercedes’ technical director Allison has pinpointed where the MCL60 is so strong.

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz revealed what Allison said.

“James Allison from Mercedes said ‘you look at where the Red Bull is strong, where the McLaren is strong and it’s in that kind 220 to 250kph bracket,’ which kind of meant that in those medium to high-speed corners,” Kravitz said.

“There it absolutely gains a huge amount of time. On the balance of the tracks that we have nowadays, that’s a significant number of corners that are at that speed range. That’s where the McLaren has really made huge gains. Alright, it’s not so great in the low speed corners but they can sort of figure that out but it’s clearly a good car.”

Kravitz also praised former technical director James Key who lost his job earlier this year while predicting that a win for Norris was on the horizon.

“They had this car they knew at the beginning of the season wasn’t the car they wanted,” Kravitz said. “They’d seen that if they went down the Red Bull route, they could do something amazing and this was before James Key left the team.

“So I think James Key, who’s now departed, the team technical director, deserves a little bit of credit for this even if he’s not with McLaren anymore, but not as half as much as the designers who actually came up with this amazing car.

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“Now they have brought lots of upgrades to it, it’s going to provide a great base for next year.

“It is where we want to see the great name of McLaren being in Formula 1 and they’ve got the hottest new talent out there.

“Lando will be saying ‘okay, I’ve been Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri, my last two Australian team-mates, have won a race for McLaren when I haven’t’ but Lando will win a race very soon from McLaren.”

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