McLaren ‘banking’ on F1 upgrades

McLaren boss Andrea Stella is 'banking' on upgrades starting in Austria

McLaren boss Andrea Stella is ‘banking’ on upgrades starting in Austria. Picture: XPB Images

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has confessed he’s banking on the upgrades set to be introduced over the next three races.

A three-part upgrade will find its way onto the MCL60 over coming events, starting with the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

McLaren designers have taken an aggressive approach to development after the car missed its targets pre-season.

McLaren has fallen back from where it was a year ago and is now mired in the midfield passel.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have been able to score points on occasions, but the limitations of the car have left the pair sniping away at top-10 finishes more than contending regularly on merit.

The MCL60 is known to be hard on its tyres, which leads to strong warm-up and therefore qualifying performance, only for that to fade as degradation comes into play during races.

Addressing that weakness is a priority, as is the car’s lack of performance around low- and medium-speed corners.

Stella has previously promised a car that will be “very noticeably different” with changes both to bodywork and internal components.

“I’m banking on this package,” Stella said.

“Across the pretty much three races in which we will introduce it, these should be a few tenths of a second – should be noticeable from a lap time point of view.”

Considered in its entirety, Stella suggested half of it will be on the car for Austria, with the remaining 50 percent split relatively equally between the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.

Introducing new parts this weekend is complicated by the fact the sport will embrace its second Sprint event of the year.

That limits McLaren’s ability to assess the impact of the parts to just an hour of free practice – potentially in the rain – on Friday.

Regardless, Stella believes it should be a more positive weekend as the Red Bull Ring should suit McLaren.

“Austria is a track in which we have done well in the past,” he reasoned.

“I think there’s seven corners; four of them are high-speed which we should be competitive on.”

However, while history suggests a strong weekend, the impact of the upgrades, and their assessment, is the team’s priority.

“This can be more important than how suitable the track is to the characteristic of the car.

“Ultimately for us, it’s a milestone for us in the possibility of turning around the situation of the season, not only thanks to what we bring to Austria but also thanks to what will follow in the next races.

“So our focus more than the characteristics of the track is now on the car itself.

“Even if we only have one session, hopefully, we’ll be able to validate the new package and from there move on into a more competitive situation.”

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