Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Silverstone, 2022

McLaren ‘surprised two teams found more performance than everyone else’ in 2022

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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McLaren’s Formula 1 technical director James Key says he is surprised by the performance of this year’s cars following the introduction of sweeping changes to the technical regulations.

An aerodynamic overhaul introduced with the intention of making it easier for F1 cars to follow each other led to a lap time loss of around two seconds on most circuits. But the rate of development has reduced that gap for several teams including frequent pace-setters Ferrari and Red Bull.

“What has surprised me is that, in theory, with the same chassis performance, the 2022 cars should be two seconds slower than the 2021 cars, but that hasn’t been the case,” Key said in an interview published by the team.

“Cars are getting very close to ’21 performance levels now, and some have already achieved it, which reflects the quality of the teams we have in this sport.

“I suppose I am a little surprised at how two teams have been able to find that extra bit of performance compared to everyone else. It was a tighter field at the beginning of the season, but it’s beginning to stretch out now, and I have to say, Ferrari and Red Bull have done an excellent job of exploiting more.

“It shows that even within a cost cap, if you’re a big team with an extensive infrastructure and a lot of knowledge and methodology built over many years, it still very much counts. It’s a level playing field in terms of the budget we’ve got, but it’s not in terms of where we’re all coming from – that gives us an excellent reference point to aspire to.”

McLaren have also moved closer to their 2021 pace. In the Italian Grand Prix they lapped 0.094 seconds faster than last year, when they set the fastest lap of the race.

“If you start the season with a competitive car, you can adapt your development plans from there and do less than what we have done whilst being more focused on the areas that you feel will be the most prolific,” Key added.

“That’s where we want to be next year, as we wouldn’t be able to maintain this aggressive level of development because it’s full-on.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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12 comments on “McLaren ‘surprised two teams found more performance than everyone else’ in 2022”

  1. McLaren were better with a Fry car than a Keys car. RB only allows some staff to leave, there must a good reason for it.

    1. @peartree indeed, Prodromou being another example. It also shows it’s not just about individuals.

  2. That’s a surprise? It’s been known that the cost cap aAlY,won’t really be coming into effect for another 5 or so years because of the investment the top teams have made over the past decade.

    He’d make a good politician, about as surprising as a global pandemic or global warming…

  3. Well the cost cap is not that hard is it? I mean, Mercedes has stated that they only ‘count’ a component towards the cost cap if they actually use it. Which means they can build and maintain a whole warehouse of parts and upgrades, no doubt under another legal entity, and only count the cost (of only that part) towards the cost cap if it actually gets mounted on a car.

    That is sort of like agreeing on a limit for a defence budget, then building and equiping an entire military force, and only counting the cost towards the defence budget of those elements that actually enter a war.

    1. Wow, that would be some news, is that true? I assumed all of r&d/production counts for the cap.
      Where did you find out about that, if you don’t mind?

    2. I haven’t heard this, or how it is permissible? I would have assumed that route would’ve been closed very early in the regulations.

    3. I don’t know if that’s the case, but I do wonder how FIA can be sure that the teams with clever accounting departments won’t get an unfair advantage..

      1. We always expected that to be the case when the budget cap was implemented. It’s just new loopholes to find.. but this time it’s in the accounting department. I would be absolutely shocked if Red Bull, a team that has developed its car the most over the season, actually did it without having found any financial loopholes.

        Policing of the budget cap was always going to be the FIA’s biggest challenge. I’m just waiting till one big story breaks on how these regulations have been abused and then it really hits the fan.

        1. Would be a great poll question. Which team is going to be caught first red handed, breaking the budget cap rules?

        2. If it’s the FIA they’d just cut a deal same as with the Ferrari fuel flow malarky. You just know that Red Bull/whoever will have them on a wording that they’re able to read in a different way, same as what they do on technical regs.

  4. Where did you find out about that, if you don’t mind?

    Probably from Horner or Marko

    1. If one of the big teams is doing it, they’re all doing it

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