McLaren MCL38 Strategy Improvement

Minor Tweaks Ahead for McLaren in Melbourne, Suzuka


McLaren F1 acknowledges the MCL38’s issues, with Andrea Stella confident in strategic improvements and tackling the car’s specific challenges head-on.

McLaren F1 has a clear understanding of the MCL38’s shortcomings. Team Principal Andrea Stella expresses confidence in his team’s ability to improve by grasping the challenges faced with their new single-seater.

“The car’s limitations are very well known to us,” Stella asserts. “I believe I’ve discussed this frequently, and they are prominently displayed on this track, along with the strengths. The strengths, as you would have seen, mean anyone trailing a McLaren in sector 1 would lose ground.”

“In those fast corners, where a quick steering input is enough, the car responds very well. In longer corners, like the last one, where the steering needs to be held for an extended period, the car tends to loosen a bit, and we lose a lot of time.”

“This is where the Ferraris excel, and that’s why Charles Leclerc was so competitive in the last sector, particularly in that corner. Another limitation is that, in some ways, we wish for more top speed.”

“So, I think these two characteristics are very apparent on this circuit, which features long straights and some very long corners, where the limitations become visible. I believe there’s room to further understand the car.”

“Like in Saudi Arabia, we took a slightly different approach with the settings between the two cars, and I think we’ve observed some interesting positives and negatives, so you want to somehow consolidate this knowledge and use it for the future.”

“I mean, aside from this optimization, which might be worth a tenth, it’s not as if you can find something magical because we’ve already conducted the tests, three days, these weekends have been dry, so we’ve had a lot of track time.”

“I think we understand the car well, aside from this minor difference between the two cars that we’ll revisit. And I believe it’s mainly a matter of improvements. Or adapting to the track based on its characteristics.”

“Minor Tweaks” for Melbourne and Suzuka

McLaren is eager not to fall behind the teams it is competing against and will introduce updates soon, even if they are minor. However, significant changes will take a bit longer to materialize.

“Otherwise, it’s a development race. And development can involve a very visible aerodynamic improvement, which we will announce. Or there could be other enhancements from a mechanical or even aerodynamic perspective.”

“For now, we have both. We have a few minor tweaks coming for Australia and, hopefully, for Japan, but they will only shave off a few milliseconds. Then, if all goes well, in the first third of the season, we’ll introduce a major update.”

McLaren cannot develop as much as last year after finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship in 2023, but Stella has no issue with that, seeing it as a sign of progress.

“We are hitting the limits of restricted aerodynamic development because we finished higher up in the championship. Honestly, I hope that in the future we will face this less and less. It means we are performing better in the championship.”

The Puzzle of Sprint Weekends

Stella believes McLaren should not rush to introduce updates due to the limited budget, and some weekends are challenging because of the Sprint format, which reduces testing time. The next significant update from McLaren is thus expected to arrive upon returning to Europe, around Imola or Monaco.

“Today, introducing updates is less about logistics. The main challenge is deciding whether to bring improvements to Sprint races or not. Because there are races like China and Miami, for example, where there will only be one free practice session.”

“But there’s also another challenge, which is the budget cap. You can’t start a project as soon as you have something reasonable to produce; you can’t do that because you would run out of budget.”

“So, you have to be convinced that it’s a good update, then press the green button and spend the money. I’d say the second reason you don’t bring updates to Australia is that it takes time. It takes time to create a compelling package that represents a significant step.”

“We are very satisfied with our development rate. I think over the last 12 months, we’ve seen that the development rate has maintained its trajectory. We pressed the button for Austria last year, for Singapore, then for the new car, and next it will be around the sixth or seventh race.”

McLaren MCL38 Strategy Improvement f1 2024. F1 McLaren MCL38 Strategy Improvement.


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