Lando Norris, McLaren, Silverstone, 2023

Wait and see if McLaren’s “much more competitive” form continues, say rivals

2023 British Grand Prix

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McLaren’s rivals say it will take a few races to know whether the breakthrough they made at the British Grand Prix points to a major change in F1’s pecking order.

The team was a distant sixth in the constructors’ standings prior to last weekend. But second and fourth at Silverstone has lifted them above Alpine and leaves McLaren 98 points behind Ferrari.

A significant aerodynamic upgrade package was added to Lando Norris’s car for the Austrian Grand Prix and he qualified and finished in fourth. At the British GP he also received a new front wing, while team mate Oscar Piastri had the earlier upgrade added to his car. Second and third on the grid, and second and fourth in the race, represents by far their best performance so far this season.

“In the last two races, they’re much more competitive and surprisingly so,” noted Alpine’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer. He believes “a combination of things” besides the McLaren MCL60’s extensive upgrade contributed to their improved performance.

While McLaren enjoyed a strong weekend at Silverstone, others were further from the pace than usual. Aston Martin sit third in the constructors’ standings having reached the podium six times this year, but they finished behind both McLarens at Silverstone.

Their team principal Mike Krack said he “did not really concentrate on McLaren” last weekend but admitted their improved form “cannot go unnoticed.”

“I think it confirms what I have always been saying: we need to be careful defining too quickly a pecking order,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

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“We have a swing up and down. We have seen in Austria, for example, the Mercedes were quite down. In Barcelona they were very strong. We were very strong in Canada. It’s not long ago when we were fighting for the podium.

“So that is why I always say we need to wait two, three, four tracks to realise or to be really sure about where the pecking order is. And I think we should maintain that.”

Ferrari’s team principal Frederic Vasseur agreed McLaren “were strong all over the weekend” and “with all the [tyre] compounds”, while his cars finished ninth and tenth. But he did not see that as a sign that McLaren would be ahead of Ferrari again in future races.

“It is the case last week I could see they were P3 in terms of performance behind us in Spielberg. And probably also that the layout of the [Silverstone] track is fitting more with the McLaren than for us, and the opposite in Spielberg.

“But each weekend will be a different one. And we’ll have to do a better job than today.”

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2023 British Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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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18 comments on “Wait and see if McLaren’s “much more competitive” form continues, say rivals”

  1. Does anyone know the differences between Oscar and Lando’s car at Silverstone?
    Was it just the front wing or were there other upgrade differences?

    1. Abies de Wet
      12th July 2023, 10:06

      Just the Front Wing.

    2. Stephen Taylor
      12th July 2023, 11:11

      The only other difference I heard about was Lando choosing to run less rear downforce than Oscar . However , I think that was more a difference caused by setup preference than upgrade.

      1. I read the Tech Tuesday article on the F1 site and they said;

        The next part of the same upgrade came with the new front wing introduced on Lando Norris’s car at Silverstone.

        Which led me to believe Oscar didn’t receive it. Given the difference in their times I’m guessing if that was the case it didn’t appear to make a huge difference.

    3. I believe Lando had an upgraded front wing.

      1. That was austria; piastri got it too at silverstone.

        1. Stephen Taylor
          12th July 2023, 21:35

          Austria was the upgraded floor and sidepod. Silverstone was front wing.

        2. @esploratore1 The article clearly states that Norris has a new front wing for Silverstone while Piastri received the updates from Austria but not the new wing.

  2. Pretty impressed with Mclaren’s in season development so far. They started off horribly in Bahrain… then just gradually made progress before jumping the cue in Austria. I don’t think they’ve found so much pace in their upgrades since the 2009 season.

    We do need to wait till Hungary to see if they can bag another top 5 finish though. If I had to guess though.. I think they’ll take P5 off Alpine at the very least. Their driver line up is far ahead of Alpine’s as well.

    1. @todfod If McLaren’s improvement isn’t track specific, then I can see them overtaking Ferrari in the WCC, let alone Alpine.

  3. Yet another yardstick to measure Ferrari and Mercedes development failures depriving us of a potential fight for the title.
    I’m really hoping we get at least a couple of years of competition at the front before these regs finish and the dice are rolled again with the ’26 engine regs.

  4. McLaren doing well at Silverstone and other tracks with many high-speed corners is not a surprise. It’ll be interesting if they expand their range to include more varied tracks. Hopefully they do! Because it’ll be nice to see Norris and Piastri mix things up with Hamilton, Alonso, Leclerc and such.

    1. And hopefully aston is back to being competitive in hungary, otherwise I think their season is done; if they can’t even compete on such a track it means they got outdevelopped by their competitors.

      1. Stephen Taylor
        12th July 2023, 21:37

        They are bringing more upgrades to Hungary. to sort the low speed issues.

    2. outdeveloped, I guess*

  5. If there has been one clear theme for the last 2 seasons for the teams other than RB it is track specific performance.

    Mainstream F1 media is being sensationalist by claiming every race a new team is ahead with an indepth explanation of why that team is ahead. Where that perfomance comes from..

    The erratic performance of the none top teams has barely changed through the years, but sensationalism has been peaking because there otherwise there is nothing to write about apart from Red Bull wins again.

    1. Exactly this. If we could take RBR out, we’d be having a very interesting season!

      1. Why would you want to punish excellence?

        Catering to the lowest common denominator, halts all forms of development.

        Whats the point in introducing new engine rules and technical regulations when you punish the ones doing well.

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