Dark
Light
Dark
Light
McLaren Podium Australia Mercedes

Stella Confident: McLaren’s Podium Not Luck

28/03/2024

Amidst unexpected turns at the Australian GP, McLaren clinched a podium, defying expectations and showcasing a robust performance against Mercedes.

Even without Max Verstappen’s retirement, Andrea Stella believes McLaren F1 would have been in contention for a podium in Australia, especially given their advantage over Mercedes.

Lando Norris secured McLaren’s first championship podium as the Briton drove his MCL38 to third place, finishing just three seconds behind Charles Leclerc’s second-place Ferrari.

However, it was an overall unexpected result since pole-sitter Max Verstappen withdrew from the Grand Prix due to a brake fire shortly after being overtaken by Carlos Sainz for the race lead.

While Stella thinks McLaren would have been vying for a podium even if Verstappen had remained in the race, since Norris was potentially outpaced by Leclerc in the pit stops, he was surprised by their lead over Mercedes and Aston Martin, with Fernando Alonso and George Russell finishing over a minute behind Norris.

“I believe what unfolded in terms of pace distribution among McLaren, Ferrari, and potentially Verstappen, as he began to voice complaints early in the race, suggests we at McLaren could have contended with Verstappen as Ferrari did.”

“However, this split between these cars and then Aston, Mercedes, and the rest was unexpected. I did not foresee that.”

He thinks tire degradation played a part.

“Sainz somewhat validated the theory that it was a tire-dominated race.”

“Definitely, there wasn’t much difference in the car between a McLaren and a Mercedes. It’s more about managing the tires, because after 10 laps, if you have less degradation than someone else, your car could be three, four tenths faster simply because you’re experiencing far less degradation.”

“So, I believe it has to do with the anomaly or the very unique behavior of the tires we have in Australia.”

But the good news for McLaren and all of Red Bull’s rivals is that Stella thinks the advantage of the RB20 is not as significant as it was in the first two rounds of the season, where Red Bull secured a one-two finish.

“As I mentioned after the race, the positive takeaway is that this faster car isn’t much faster, not at all. We were very close.”

McLaren Podium Australia Mercedes. McLaren Podium Australia Mercedes

Newsletter

Go toTop