Mika Hakkinen has shed light on the reasoning behind his remarkable mid-season prediction that McLaren would challenge Red Bull in the second half of the F1 2023 campaign.
McLaren started the year with muted expectations after missing development targets last winter, but improved the MCL60 car to emerge as the most consistent threat to the dominant Red Bull team in the second half of 2023.
Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri claimed seven podium finishes between them from July, with the latter winning the Qatar sprint race from pole position.
Mystic Mika predicted McLaren F1 2023 transformation
McLaren’s remarkable resurgence came after two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen predicted a major turnaround following June’s Canadian Grand Prix, where the team failed to score a point.
“The only surprise I think we’ll see is McLaren’s possible progress during the next two months,” he said.
“I think they will surprise us massively. Just in terms of the speed of the car, they will probably challenge Red Bull.”
Asked to explain where his belief in the team had come from, Mystic Mika revealed a visit to McLaren’s factory in Woking had left him convinced that the team’s on-track fortunes were about to be transformed.
He told McLaren’s official website: “From spending time at the factory with different departments.
“Talking with different people in the factory, seeing their motivation and how confident they were – they knew what they were talking about. And every department felt like a team.
“You could tell that they had done their homework and calculations, which made me confident. You need team spirit, and you need confidence in the team’s leaders, and that is what is going on.
“There is a direction, and that is an important motivating factor. The mechanics, engineers, marketing, media, everybody at the track and factory is working super hard. The teamwork is a mega success.”
Hakkinen’s comments come after Norris showered praise on team principal Andrea Stella for his impact on McLaren’s revival.
He told media including PlanetF1.com: “Andrea is just the director of it all. He’s the producer of the set and everyone else is the cast, but you need everyone to work together very well and that’s what they’re doing.
“He’s done an amazing job. I’m very, very happy with having him where he is. He still does a lot for the team every single weekend in terms of racing and qualifying and all of that.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team principal.”