McLaren has slowly rolled out a substantial update package for its MCL60, with both drivers and management consciously understating expectations for recent events. Nonetheless, the team managed to secure podium positions at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, and the Spa sprint race last weekend.
Despite this, Lando Norris finished seventh in the Belgian GP, having lost three spots during the first stint due to difficulties with medium tyres. His early switch to hard tyres also proved disadvantageous, leaving him feeling like he was coming in last.
Oscar Piastri’s retirement due to steering damage following a first-corner crash with Carlos Sainz showed Stella that the Spa weekend was a wake-up call. It demonstrated that his team urgently needs to fix issues that would persist into the Italian GP.
He remarked, “This weekend highlighted the areas where we need to improve.
“Though we have made progress in some aspects – a fact that was validated – it also exposed areas that have yet to be addressed.
“This weekend’s events have jolted us into reality and reinforced that these areas must be urgently addressed.
“This urgency arises from the fact that the next race post the summer shutdown is at Monza. We can’t afford to race at Monza the way we did at Spa.”
“So, urgent adjustments are necessary at McLaren to rectify the current situation.”
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, in front of Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / F1 Flow Images
The team’s susceptibility at Spa was due to the fact that considerable design and production resources were spent on implementing the radical update. However, this meant that they arrived at the high-speed circuit lacking an optimised low-drag rear wing specification, an essential component for the Monza race.
Stella went on to say, “While this configuration benefited us in the past, it started to become a significant issue during the GP.”
He further stated, “Let’s say we’ve learned some valuable lessons from this weekend. We didn’t necessarily target this configuration.
“Enhancing the car’s efficiency in low drag is on our to-do list. However, it was less of a priority than some of the issues we’ve been addressing in recent months.”
Following his hampered race strategy, Norris suggested that the team’s emphasis on updating the car may have affected the execution of the race. However, Stella quickly dismissed any correlation.
He clarified, “There’s no direct link between our focus on upgrades and the set-up decisions made here at Spa.
“The real connection is that we’ve been so occupied with other things, we didn’t find the time to focus on improving the low-drag rear wings.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about McLaren Improvements
What recent achievements has McLaren made in the F1 races?
Despite dampening expectations, McLaren has secured podium finishes at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, and the Spa sprint race with its MCL60.
What issues did McLaren face at the Belgian GP?
At the Belgian GP, McLaren faced significant challenges. Lando Norris lost three places due to struggles with medium tyres and an early shift to hard tyres was equally problematic. Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri had to retire due to steering damage from a collision.
What urgent work does McLaren need to undertake after the Belgian GP?
McLaren needs to address and fix issues such as the optimisation of the low-drag rear wing specification that were exposed at the Belgian GP. These improvements are particularly urgent as the same weaknesses may impact their performance at the upcoming Italian GP.
What was the impact of McLaren’s focus on upgrading the car on the race execution?
There’s no direct correlation between McLaren’s focus on upgrades and the race execution decisions made at Spa. The main issue was that the team was so busy with other aspects, they didn’t have enough time to work on improving the low-drag rear wings.