Lando Norris, McLaren, Monza, 2023

McLaren will bring ‘follow-up to Austria upgrade’ before focusing on 2024 car

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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McLaren have several more upgrades scheduled to be brought to their MCL60 over the remaining eight races, including a “follow-up to the Austria upgrade” that turned the team into podium contenders.

Last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix was McLaren’s lowest-scoring weekend since July’s Austrian Grand Prix, despite bringing upgrades that were designed specifically to improve their performance at Monza.

The Austria upgrades, while improving the MCL60’s performance in the areas McLaren was targeting, also made the car draggier. Therefore new parts to address that unwanted characteristic were needed before tackling Monza’s long straights.

“The Monza-specific upgrades were centred around reducing the level of drag,” said McLaren’s team principal Andrea Stella.

“In addition to trying to reduce the level of drag, you also try to see what happens to the rest of the car and how can we now start mitigating the implication of putting small rear wings on,” he explained. “Because when you put small rear wings, then you reduce the suction at the back of the floor, the floor offloads, and then the whole car kind of tends to ‘switch off’.

“Therefore it depends on how long do you want to spend in compensating the impact of the small wings or how much you simply accept that’s what we have, we don’t have time to do much more.

“In our case, we have been able to produce the rear wings for very low downforce, but we haven’t put much emphasis into trying to fix the implications because were focusing on the first group of upgrades, and then we were focusing on the follow-up to the Austria upgrade that we will see in the next couple of races.”

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The next two races take place on tracks which require high levels of downforce. McLaren have claimed their best results at such tracks. But Stella discounts the possibility McLaren could be able to fight Red Bull for victory at circuits that will suit their car better than Monza.

“When we see the gap that is still missing to be able to fight for victories, you would need at least another development as big as the one that we introduced in Austria,” continued Stella. “This is at the moment not in the numbers of what we will be delivering trackside in the next couple of races.

“I would hope that we could add another like a few tenths, but this won’t be enough to challenge for victories. But hopefully it will allow us to lean on podiums a few times before the end of the season.”

McLaren’s decision not to attempt another upgrade on scale of what they brought to the Austrian Grand Prix was not a consequence of the budget cap restrictions. “It’s more about time,” Stella explained. “At some stage you need to start working on next year’s car.”

“Once we started to work on the upgrades, we realised that we do need to evolve the chassis and some other aspects of car layout in order to further exploit aerodynamics. So the more you know, the more you know what you can do further.

“After year one [of the current rules] there were most of the elements of layout in continuity from year one to year two, potentially because we didn’t know enough as to what is possible. Now we are more knowledgeable and therefore actually we are adding work, because we know more to modify the layout of the car for next year and catching more aerodynamic benefit.”

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A key factor in how McLaren has been tackling development work has been their transition last month from using Toyota’s wind tunnel in Germany to using their own tunnel at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, which the team is upgrading.

“We have started working and developing the 2024 car in the new wind tunnel,” confirmed Stella. “This process has been very smooth, to be honest.

“We were ready for having to face some anomalies and scratch our heads. In reality, there’s been really good continuity between the work we were doing at Toyota and the work we are doing at MTC wind tunnel, obviously with a massive advantage from a logistical point of view and from a financial saving point of view.”

Some work being done on the MCL60’s successor could be brought forward to this year’s car, said Stella.

“There’s a couple of areas that you can develop on next year’s car [in the wind tunnel], and think like if they are successful, should we release them for this year’s car?” he said.

“I don’t want to say which areas, but definitely there’s a couple of areas in which we have this approach towards the development. In that case, we’ll have to look at can we afford that because it will go beyond what we had planned from a budget point of view. So it will depend on the cost, it will depend on the project being mature enough.”

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2023 Italian 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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2 comments on “McLaren will bring ‘follow-up to Austria upgrade’ before focusing on 2024 car”

  1. Bringing updates for the 2024 car to try them out is a smart move as it’s doesn’t costs windtunnel time. I expect red Bull is going todo this withsome updates in the remaining races.

    1. Yeah, this is one of the advantages of not having any rule changes. If they can bring some things they now better understand forward and both learn and improve their pace at the same time that would be great.

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