Secret ‘information’ tipped to be behind ‘bullish’ McLaren team boss F1 2024 prediction

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren and Red Bull during the Australian GP.

McLaren and Red Bull.

After McLaren team boss Andrea Stella’s prediction that they can win in F1 2024 was branded “bullish”, their former driver Pedro de la Rosa teased that Stella must have behind-the-scenes “information” to warrant that exciting claim.

McLaren emerged as the most-improved team in 2023, with their string of upgrades taking the MCL60 from towards the back of the field to scoring regular podiums. Oscar Piastri also claimed victory in the Qatar Sprint.

McLaren seeing potential to join F1 2024 race-winning scene?

That progress has continued into F1 2024, but with Ferrari having made major gains, while Red Bull is once more setting a daunting level out front, McLaren so far has picked up just the one podium courtesy of Lando Norris’ P3 in Melbourne. But, are we on the verge of a fresh McLaren surge?

F1 Nation podcast host Tom Clarkson revisited a recent claim by McLaren team principal Stella that they can win in F1 2024, which he referred to as “especially bullish” after Red Bull and Ferrari had the beating of them last time out at Suzuka.

“It’s interesting how Andrea Stella, the team principal of McLaren, said on F1 Nation last week that it’s going to be a straightforward development battle between Ferrari and McLaren this year, but, he does think McLaren can win a race in 2024,” said Clarkson.

“I thought that was especially bullish from him given how they were outpaced really at Suzuka by both Ferrari and Red Bull.”

However, De la Rosa, who made several race starts for McLaren during his long-standing test driver stint, claims Stella would not make such a claim unless he saw reason to support it in the data for McLaren’s upcoming upgrades.

And considering McLaren have already proven their ability for strong in-season development under Stella, could they emerge from the pack to challenge Red Bull in F1 2024?

“I think that Andrea knows more than us about their development programme,” said De la Rosa. “So I think that he’s banking those comments based on the fact that he knows that they will have some upgrades soon and that they’re doing well.

“Normally, you wouldn’t say something like that if you don’t know you had more information.”

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So far Ferrari are the only team to have halted Red Bull’s run of 1-2 finishes, Carlos Sainz having led Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc across the line in Australia, where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired on the second lap with a brake failure.

And De la Rosa believes these two teams will be the victory contenders at the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix, where if the resurfaced Shanghai International Circuit proves to be a high-degradation track, then Ferrari could be looking good.

“It will be an interesting race China in the sense that I think that we have seen from the very first races that Red Bull continues to be extremely strong,” said the Spaniard.

“It’s a very versatile car, so works in any type of corners at different right heights. It’s not very much affected by the wind gusts as other teams, so they will be the car to beat.

“But I think that the important factor here will be how much degradation there will be. If it’s a high-deg circuit, it will benefit Ferrari, because they have proven to be a very good car, team, managing the tyres.”

Red Bull go into the Chinese GP 21 points ahead of Ferrari at the top of the Constructors’ Championship.

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