McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is admittedly not too worried about introducing upgrades to the MCL60 during the first Sprint race weekend of the season at the 2023 F1 Azerbaijan GP.
Baku will host one of six Sprint races this season at the end of April, meaning F1 will have to remove one practice session from the weekend itinerary to fit all of the weekend’s action.
McLaren’s faltering start to the season did not come as a surprise. The team accepted that the car they launched and ran for the first three rounds had been sub-optimal in comparison to their rivals.
Heading into the race in Baku, Stella is not unfazed about introducing upgrades. In an interview cited by F1 journalist Chris Medland, the Italian said:
“If there’s no anomalous behaviors, then it’s relatively easy 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 that you measure to the dozens of pressure sensors.”
Stella went on to add:
“So we are not too worried in terms of assessing whether it’s possible or not, unless there are some anomalies. But so far I have to say that the cars are proving to be correlating well with the development. That’s why we decided to introduce it, even if it’s a sprint race.”
“We hope we’ll be in contention”: Baku upgrade will not be a game changer for McLaren, according to Andrea Stella
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is hoping his team can be in contention to fight for points after they introduce the aforementioned upgrade to the MCL60.
After two dismal rounds of racing in the Middle East, McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri both managed to finish in the points places during the 2023 F1 Australian GP, albeit with some luck panning out for them.
Despite opening their account for the campaign, Stella does not want his team to take it for granted. When asked about the team’s situation after the race in Albert Park, the Italian said:
“We don’t get carried away — we know it was a very eventful race. It’s good to score points after we have had some difficult races at the start of the season in which we were in contention to score points but for various reasons, we couldn’t. It’s good now to come off these races with some good points.”
He then went on to talk about the planned upgrade to the car, admitting it will not be a game changer for McLaren but a step in the right direction in terms of development.
“We know that in Baku we start another step of this season by starting to have some upgrades on the car. We know it is not going to be a game changer, but it will be a first step for what we hope will be multiple upgrades. We hope we’ll be in contention to fight for points in the future on merit.”
McLaren will be hoping this and their recent technical restructuring can help them get back to challenging in the midfield and have an outside shot at being the best of the rest, something they have found hard with gradual slips in the standings in the last few seasons.