McLaren has baseline for future after positive Baku news
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 3rd May, 2023 - 7:51pm
Andrea Stella feels McLaren now has a baseline for future development following the positivity provided by its upgrade for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend.
After three difficult opening race weekends for the team in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, McLaren unveiled a new floor on its MCL60s for the double-race event around the Baku Street Circuit.
Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris qualified strongly on Friday evening for the grand prix, starting 10th and seventh respectively, which they converted into 11th and ninth as the leading four teams – Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes – all had two-car finishes ahead of them.
Despite failing to collect any points from the sprint after Norris and Piastri started 10th and 11th, team principal Stella was left buoyed by the impact of the new floor, and what that now means for additional updates in the coming races.
Despite only one practice session to validate the upgrade, Stella insisted there was “no impact”, adding: “Free practice one ran relatively smoothly for us. I think there was just a delay due to a red flag.
“So actually, we had the time and the possibility to test, to look at the data, and the data confirmed that what we measured trackside is in line with expectations from the development tools, so that’s really positive news for McLaren.
“The new floor concept seems to work. We see this in the data, and I think we see this a little bit in lap time, in terms of competitiveness, which is another bit of positive news.
“This will be the baseline for future developments, so it was important to confirm this.”
Norris reserving full judgment
Piastri has said he was encouraged by the upgrade, describing it as “definitely an improvement”.
From Norris’ perspective, the British driver was a little more cautious given the nature of the Baku Street Circuit which is dominated by slow-speed corners.
Post-race, Norris opted to reserve a degree of judgment until after sampling another track, with the race in Miami approaching this weekend.
“It (the upgrade) didn’t help that much given the very slow-speed corners that we have,” he said.
“If you look at it on a pure lap-time basis, it probably didn’t help us too much. A tiny bit, but not too much.
“Maybe in Miami, we will see some bigger gains with more medium-speed corners.
“But it’s more of a different philosophy to have a baseline with, and that is a small step forward.
“More of the bigger gains are coming in the future.”
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