Lando Norris, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

McLaren “need to pick up the pace” in 2023 – Brown

2023 F1 season

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McLaren are braced for a difficult start to the 2023 F1 season having admitted they are behind their development projections ahead of next week’s opening race.

The team admitted at the launch of its new MCL60 they hadn’t met all their targets and plan to bring an update soon after the start of the season. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said “it’s hard to know until we get going” exactly how competitive they are.

“We know we set some goals for development which we didn’t hit and we felt it was better to be honest about that,” Brown told media including RaceFans in Bahrain today. “We, like everyone, have a lot of development coming, so we are encouraged [by] what we see around the corner.

“But I think we will be going into the the first race off of our projected targets and it’s hard to really know where that means we’ll be on the grid.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: Pre-season testing day two in pictures
McLaren covered the fewest laps of any team in the opening day of the test on Thursday. The MCL60 spent time in the garage having parts reinforced to guard against failures.

“We had some teething problems yesterday,” Brown admitted. “We had Oscar doing most of the heavy lifting in the morning, getting the car dialled in. Nothing alarming, just the usual testing bugs.

“Today Lando was focussed on longer runs, so we’re still understanding the car and have a lot more testing ahead of us – relatively speaking, another day and a half – and then we’ll get to work on race set-up.”

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The team endured a difficult test in Bahrain last year, when braking problems severely limited how many laps they could complete, compromising their preparations for the new season. Brown said it is “very important” the team has a more productive test this year.

“Last year with our brake issue it stopped the development of some other items we were working on to make sure we fixed the problem. Then we came into Bahrain sub-optimal from a performance standpoint, just to make sure we got through the race.

“I’m very proud about how quickly the team did react because we had about a week to solve a problem. But I think that did hurt us at the start of the year so it’s important that we have a normal test session to start the season.”

McLaren fell to fifth in the constructors championship in 2022. Brown said the team needs to bounce back quickly from their slow start to the season to stand a chance of moving back up.

“We want to be in the top four by the end of the year. Last year was a bit disappointing. Our aspirations are to get back to the front. We know that will take a little bit more time.

“We’ve got all the technology infrastructure either in or going to be pretty much completed this year. So that’s quite exciting, and we have some good developments coming.

“But so does every other single team in Formula 1. So we need do need to pick up the pace.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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15 comments on “McLaren “need to pick up the pace” in 2023 – Brown”

  1. Quite similar to how they began last season. I expect them to be weaker than Aston Martin & Alpine in the first few races. But i will be a bit surprised if they end up behind Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri.

  2. If I had to guess, both Aston Martin and Alpine will probably start the season ahead of Mclaren. Crazy to think that Mclaren is still dropping the ball so massively after a promising 2021 season.

  3. It’s very early days, but even at this stage it’s looking like this season is shaping up to be a less dramatic version of the start of 2022. RBR and Ferrari probably out in front pace wise with Mercedes now still a little behind, though not as behind as last time.

    We then have McLaren struggling again as the season starts just like last year. With possibly Alpine and Aston Martin sitting in front of them to begin with and who knows if longer.

  4. As a McLaren fan, I pray for the day that a pre-season actually gives me hope!

    1. @sonnycrockett I remember the last time that happened in 2013. It still wasn’t pretty!

    2. Why do I put myself through the torment of being a McLaren fan

  5. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    24th February 2023, 13:13

    Wonder what McLarens issue is, they seem to find a strength in their car and then never seem able to build on that strength.

    1. Is there a parallel in the management structure at Ferrari and McLaren.?
      Most would agree that the organization structure that has made Scuderia Ferrari the “award winning” team they are today, is likely not the best way to run an F1 operation.
      They have the power unit, facilities that should be superior to Red Bull, an experienced team and more than capable drivers. It just seems that at McLaren, there are lots of chiefs, all of whom seem to be trying to drive the bus.

  6. It’s a disgrace that McLaren once again find themselves lagging and making excuses before it’s even begun.

    They are by far the most disappointing team on the grid especially when you take into account their facilities, driver and staff talent. They can’t even complain that the engine is poor.

    They should be challenging for podiums every race.

    1. Please tell what makes their facilities so great compared to their competitors? And what did their staff ever proved to accomplish?

  7. Something seems structurally wrong at that team, unless they’re doing some serious sandbagging. They don’t lack in technical facilities, quality drivers, or a good engine, but they continually struggle to develop competitively, year after year. I struggle to point the finger at one person in particular, but it’s still concerning.

    1. Maybe the most competent technical staff gets lured to Red Bull, Mercedes or Aston? I cannot wrap my head around this either but I guess Woking isn’t as attractive as it used to be.

    2. My armchair analysis in a nutshell is that they are simply inefficient, sadly. I think it stems from way back when Ron Dennis introduced the super clean and tidy work environment, McLaren were the only ones doing that which put them ahead of the competition. Now everyone is more or less doing that, but in a better and more modern way too. I think McLaren are somewhat stuck in the mindset that they are ahead in terms of facilities, work environment, and procedures. Because they got used to being there. But they are behind by todays standards, even if they have evolved further post Dennis, and turn too slowly as an organisation. I want them to do well, but as you say something must be wrong at that team. They still seem to be stuck spending huge resources on stuff that evidently doesn’t make their racecar go any faster. They need to find that focus on what’s important, and spend their resources there. But, I’m just guessing from what little I can see between the lines.

  8. Well, as a life-long McLaren fan, I have to say – it is what it is. I didn’t expect much better after weak last year, Seidl’s departure and continuous delays in launching the new wind tunnel. I’m pleased with the promotion of Andrea Stella, he seems quite competent and I’m convinced he’s more than worthy replacement for Seidl. It’s seemingly rather James Key’s department that can’t find the right solutions.

    1. I believe they should zak James Key. Binotto is available and is a more than competent TD. He is the one that can bring us forward and him at McLaren could also make us more attractive to staff of other teams. Especially with the new facilities. I believe that with current TD no matter what facilities we’ll have, they can’t bring us forward.

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