McLaren, Yas Marina, 2022

McLaren target fourth place in 2023 after “disappointing” fall to fifth

2022 F1 season

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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the team’s fall to fifth place in the constructors’ championship in 2022 was a “disappointing” result.

Alpine prevailed in a close fight over fourth place between the two teams. Although McLaren’s Lando Norris out-scored both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo failed to beat either Alpine driver and ended the season well short of his team mate’s tally.

McLaren confirmed halfway through the year Ricciardo would not see out the final year of his contract in 2023. Team principal Andreas Seidl then left the team at the end of the season to join Sauber ahead of their transition into Audi.

Brown admitted he was dissatisfied with McLaren’s outcome for the season. “[It was a] tough season, for sure,” he told Speedcafe. “Fifth is disappointing coming off of fourth and, prior to that, a third.

“We had our challenges. We definitely had some good weekends – a nice podium by Lando. Then of course, we really struggled to come to grips with Daniel to maximise his performance. So as you guys are well aware that was difficult through, really, the entire season in the media that was around that.”

McLaren lured Oscar Piastri away from Alpine, where he was a reserve driver, to replace Ricciardo next year.

“We’re super-excited to have landed another Aussie in Oscar – and that wasn’t without a little bit of arm wrestling and drama,” Brown continued. “So yeah, a tough year.”

Brown says the team will target fourth in the constructors’ championship again in 2023. They also aim to reduce their performance deficit to the front-running cars.

“We have two data points that we pay most attention to: One is how close are we to the the team that’s winning and, if that team is not Mercedes, our other data point – given what a great team Mercedes is and we share the same engine – is how close are we to Mercedes,” Brown explained.

“So those are our two primary data points from a competitive standpoint and we want to be closer to them next year than we were this year. Beyond that, it’s hard to set a very specific number to that. Of course, we’d like to get back up to at least fourth in the championship. But I think we’re going to need a little bit more of our technology in place to really be able to break into the top three.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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16 comments on “McLaren target fourth place in 2023 after “disappointing” fall to fifth”

  1. I am not sure I understand this , surely you would be targeting winning, I know on recent results it may seem tough, but the consensus is they have a number one driver nearing the pinnacle , they appear to have plentiful funds, enough to splash out on multiple categories. It sounds like he has very little faith in his design and production team to produce a winning car. Sad really for a great team with such tremendous historical success.

    1. Of course they’d like to win – but that doesn’t mean it is a real possibility. And let’s face it – it really isn’t, especially given that the rules aren’t significantly changing.
      Setting achievable goals is important for many things – not least of which is team morale.

    2. Sounds like you took a break from following F1 around 2012.

    3. In modern F1 it is near impossible to go from 5th to 1st without a major change in technical regulations to reset the field. Because we just had that and McLaren didn’t take full advantage of it, they will have to make incremental improvements to their position and hope teams above them head down the wrong developmental path. Moving from 5th to 3rd would be the absolute best they could hope for next year if Merc don’t come with a better package or Ferrari continue their end of season performances. But the likelihood of both happening are very slim.

    4. It sounds like he has very little faith in his design and production team to produce a winning car.

      A decade of not being competitive will do that to you.

  2. What a failure these rules are…

    it will also create a more level-playing field that should lead to more competitive and unpredictable racing

    Yet here we are in year 2 of new aero, budget cap, scaled testing and teams that were meant to fight for wins and even championships – McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin – have zero chance of even challenging Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari. What’s even more shocking is that people see no problem with the same 6 drivers locking out top 6 places in every single grand prix, because tickets are selling like hot cakes. I can only assume they don’t care at all about sporting aspects, because it’s all about made-up entertainment and social media drama.

  3. As Jeff says above.
    Target Winning and accept fourth if the likes of Red Bull and Merc beat you.

    Never go into a fight just hoping you don’t lose too badly, or you will lose.

  4. Some of the comments here surprise me, I am fully aware of Mclarens . problems over the last 10 years but they were close to the top three on a couple of occasions last year allowing for anomalies in tracks causing differentials in performance but surely the aim must be to improve and get closer to the chance of a win , I just wonder what Lando. thinks when he is only expected to aim at 7th.

  5. It isn’t so much that McClaren are not targetting winning that disappoints me, it is that even a team of their stature thinks the top three are already wrapped up for 2023. I think that tells us the regs are not really working. All the budget caps and engine restrictions and mandatory pit stops and all the other gimmicks still don’t level the playing field.

    1. I think its more a realization that ,as a customer team, the max you can achieve is 4th. For the foreseeable future, i dont see any new team taking the top-3 slot…

    2. It isn’t so much that McClaren are not targetting winning that disappoints me, it is that even a team of their stature thinks the top three are already wrapped up for 2023.

      Don’t you? I certainly do. Most other people who follow F1 form think so too.

      The regs were never supposed to work that well – primarily because the Big 3 wouldn’t allow them to.
      F1 will never provide a level playing field.

      1. Also worth highlighting that McLaren benefitted from being one of the top teams for decades before their slide down (as Williams did too). The problem now is it takes a huge investment and effort to bridge the gap into the top team group or a very fortunate rule change that you nail. Obviously the top teams though know their strengths and will work against others to limit the opportunities to dethrone them. There is a reason the top 3 have close relations with other teams be it sister teams or engine customers. They’re frequently used to leverage votes to favour them historically.

  6. Time for Zak to give Jim Hall a call to see if he has one last revolutionary innovation in his kit bag.(That won’t immediately be banned by FIA.

    If not maybe he can tell him what the car is doing (or not doing) and get the Jim staring off into space, then returning the car “better”. Just maths and science in his head.

  7. It depends on how well Alonso will drive this year. If he still manages to get something from himself, Aston Martin will be 4th, McLaren will be 5th.

    1. You think Stroll is suddenly going to find that missing 5 tenths.

      1. @slowmo

        Agree.. no matter how good Alonso will be, Stroll is a liability of epic proportions. I can’t wait for him to just take his dads job and sign the cheques.

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