McLaren honesty sounds early-season alarm
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 25th February, 2023 - 2:40am
Zak Brown has dropped a broad hint McLaren may be off the pace when the new F1 season starts in Bahrain next weekend.
During the launch of the MCL60 earlier this month, new team principal Andrea Stella said he was “not entirely happy” with the car, although expressed hope there would soon be improvements.
Across the first two days of the pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit, Stella’s concerns have appeared to be well-founded as the car’s running was limited on Thursday due to “a few minor issues”.
On the track, the car also appears to be lacking in pace compared to its rivals.
Asked how far on the backfoot his team is at present, CEO Brown said: “It’s hard to know until we get going.
“We know we set some goals for development, which we didn’t hit, and we felt it was better to be honest about that.
“Like everyone, we have a lot of development coming, so we are encouraged by what we see around the corner.
“(But) I think we will be going into the first race off of our projected targets. (So it is) Hard to really know where that means we will be on the grid.”
Brown urges McLaren to pick up the pace
If McLaren is languishing, it will make it the second successive season the team will start the year playing catch up.
In pre-season last year, the MCL36 was beset with brake issues that were not permanently fixed until the fourth race of the campaign in Imola.
The team still managed to push Alpine to the wire for fourth place in the constructors’ championship, falling short by 14 points which Brown has said “was a bit disappointing”.
That position is again the stated aim for this year but it appears McLaren will likely face a challenging start that will test its aspirations.
With the new wind tunnel not due to come online until a few months in, Brown is demanding urgency from his team.
“Our aspirations are to get back to the front,” he said. “We know that will take a little bit more time.
“We’ve got all the technology infrastructure is either in or going to be pretty much completed this year, so that’s quite exciting.
“We have some good developments coming, but so does every other single team in Formula 1, so we need to pick up the pace.”
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