McLaren have plans in place to make their MCL60 a regular points-scoring machine, with a pair of major upgrades key to that.
McLaren by their own admission did not start the F1 2023 campaign in a place which they were happy with, choosing the honest approach by revealing that targets had not been hit.
And that has been evident on the track so far, McLaren scoring just one double points finish in the opening five rounds, that coming at what turned into a chaotic Australian Grand Prix.
Lando Norris followed up his P6 with a P9 finish in Baku, where McLaren it seemed had taken a step forward with the introduction of a floor upgrade, one which the Brit had hoped would prove more effective at the Miami GP.
That did not come to pass though as McLaren once more fell well away from the top 10, Norris finishing 17th from his P16 grid slot, while Oscar Piastri suffered with brake-by-wire issues on his way to P19, both drivers having dropped out of qualifying in Q1 a day prior.
Norris had offered hope though by claiming that the new floor in Baku had laid the foundations for bigger upgrades to come, and team boss Andrea Stella has now moved to reveal where McLaren’s development drive will truly ramp up.
And their next ‘sizeable’ package is actually set to be split across the Canadian and British GPs, taking place in June and July respectively.
The Austrian Grand Prix in between has been overlooked as that is where the second F1 sprint weekend of 2023 is scheduled to take place.
“The next sizeable package of updates will arrive before the summer break,” said Stella as per Motorsport.com. “We are planning to spread the updates between the Canadian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix.
“We will definitely avoid bringing new updates to Austria, because that will be a Sprint Shootout and Sprint Race weekend. And given the amount of updates we will bring we are not confident in bringing them to an event that will be very similar to Baku.
“In Baku we brought the new floor, but in those races we will bring bigger things and the floor will be introduced in Britain.”
There are three rounds still to navigate before the Canadian GP arrives, and the first of those is the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola, where the likes of Mercedes are expected to unveil major updates for their W14 challenger.
Stella confirmed though that while McLaren do have something in the pipeline for Imola, it is certainly nothing on the scale of what Mercedes seemingly have planned.
“There will be small developments at Imola, actually, but only minor ones compared to the step we need to take to be consistently in the points, which is our goal,” Stella stated.
“What will arrive at Imola was approved and started production one or two months ago, depending on the delivery time. So it’s not like if you have a set-up problem you can react in the period between now and Imola.
“At the moment we have more problems related to the specification of the car, the package, and the parts have their own design time, production time, and so on. So what will happen at Imola is what we decided a month ago.”
McLaren cannot afford any further setbacks
For a team which was a midfield leader looking to return to the top of the pile, McLaren’s recent trend of going in the opposite direction to their intended destination is far from optimal.
While Red Bull have stolen a march on the entire grid, the midfield is increasingly becoming more a case of everyone else, with Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari at the head, with Alpine, McLaren’s former midfield rivals, now seemingly very much arriving on the scene.
That then is the minimum which McLaren would have been expecting, but instead, they need major gains from these upgrades just to have hope of joining that conversation. Bear in mind this is a team setting itself the task of challenging at the very front again come 2024/2025.
McLaren has the driver pairing to make that happen, Lando Norris’ exceptional talents seeing him linked with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull considering McLaren’s shortcomings, while rookie Oscar Piastri is showing flashes of why he is one of the most eagerly-anticipated new F1 faces in many years.
McLaren then simply need to make moves, and they need to happen now.