McLaren dismiss calibration concern for Baku sprint upgrades
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 9th April, 2023 - 6:00am
Andrea Stella has dismissed any concern over the fact McLaren is planning to roll out the first of its raft of upgrades for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix despite it being a sprint weekend.
McLaren has made clear from pre-season that it missed its targets in development over the winter, playing a part in the recent technical restructure that resulted in the departure of technical director James Key.
The team managed to shuffle its way through the first trio of grands prix, and score its points of the season in the last race in Australia after avoiding the chaos that unfolded at various stages through the race at Melbourne’s Albert Park.
With the current spring break giving it an opportunity to hone its development, Stella is unafraid to run them around Baku rather than wait for a more conventional racing circuit.
“We know that in Baku we will be starting another step of the season by having some upgrades on the car,” said the McLaren team principal.
“We know they’re not going to be a game changer, but it’s the first step of what we hope will be multiple upgrades, and we will then be in a condition to fight for points in the future on merit, and not only thanks to having eventful races.”
Stella explains McLaren upgrades decision
Suggested to Stella it would be difficult for the team to calibrate the updates with the likelihood there will only be one practice session across the weekend as opposed to the regular three, he replied: “If there are no anomalous behaviours then it will be relatively easy.
“That’s because in modern Formula 1, you have the data and you can read the aerodynamic performance through the forces that you measure, and through the pressure map around the car through the pressure sensors.
“So we are not too worried in terms of assessing whether they will be positive or not, unless there are some anomalies.
“But so far, I have to say, the car has proven to be correlating well with the development, so that’s why we have decided to introduce it, even if it’s a sprint race weekend.”
The plan for Baku is that Saturday’s practice session will make way for an additional qualifying that will set the grid for the sprint, with Friday’s qualifying hour determining the line up for the grand prix.
Despite the concerns of such a programme at a street circuit where there is a greater propensity for incidents, Stella remarked: “We support what F1 is trying to achieve.
“We support making Saturday even more exciting and with more racing content, compared to simply having the FP2 session where you have cars running around, but actually, we don’t think that’s a very useful session. So we are supportive.”
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