McLaren Aims for First Major 2024 F1 Upgrade by Race Six or Seven

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McLaren targets “race six or seven” for first major 2024 F1 upgrade

McLaren has kicked off the 2024 season with considerably more vigor compared to the same period last year, engaging in intense battles with Mercedes across tracks in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, vying for the coveted title of the third-fastest team behind the dominant Red Bull and Ferrari outfits.

However, despite McLaren’s promising start, a resurgent Ferrari has thwarted its aspirations of replicating the podium success achieved in the latter part of 2023.

Persistent weaknesses from previous seasons, notably in low-speed handling and top speed, continue to plague McLaren’s performance on the track.

Team principal Stella has disclosed plans for a significant upgrade package aimed at addressing these deficiencies, scheduled for introduction around the sixth or seventh race of the season, potentially debuting at either the Miami or Imola Grand Prix.

McLaren Aims for First Major 2024 F1 Upgrade by Race Six or Seven
McLaren Aims for First Major 2024 F1 Upgrade by Race Six or Seven (Credits: Motorsport)

“Minor enhancements are in the pipeline for the upcoming races in Australia and hopefully Japan, albeit delivering marginal gains in the order of milliseconds,” Stella elucidated. “However, the eagerly awaited major upgrade, slated for around race six or seven, holds the promise of substantial performance improvements.”

Stella emphasized that while McLaren is still exploring avenues for improvement with the current MCL38 chassis, significant strides are unlikely until the arrival of the comprehensive upgrade package.

“While there’s undoubtedly room for refinement in the MCL38, we don’t anticipate any significant breakthroughs until the deployment of the aforementioned upgrade,” Stella affirmed. “Our recent experimentation with setup variations in Jeddah yielded valuable insights, though the resulting optimizations are estimated to yield only marginal gains, perhaps in the vicinity of one tenth of a second.”

As McLaren awaits the arrival of its anticipated upgrade, speculation regarding the team’s true competitive standing persists. The upcoming Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka is anticipated to provide a clearer picture, given its diverse range of low- and high-speed corners, as well as lengthy straights.

Acknowledging McLaren’s vulnerability in low-speed scenarios, Stella cautioned against oversimplifying the MCL38’s characteristics as solely geared towards high-downforce setups.

He highlighted the distinction between instant and sustained cornering performance, noting the car’s responsiveness in fast, flowing sections contrasted with its challenges in prolonged cornering maneuvers.

“While McLaren excels in rapid directional changes, evidenced by its prowess in sector one at Jeddah, the car’s performance wanes in elongated corners where sustained grip is required,” Stella elucidated. “This is where Ferrari has demonstrated superiority, particularly evident in Leclerc’s competitive showing in the final sector.”

Furthermore, Stella emphasized McLaren’s pursuit of enhanced top speed, recognizing its importance in optimizing overall race performance.

“As we continue our campaign, we remain focused on refining our car’s balance and maximizing its potential across various track configurations,” Stella concluded. “The forthcoming upgrade is poised to be a game-changer, elevating McLaren’s competitiveness and reaffirming our commitment to challenging the frontrunners in the Formula One arena.”

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