Formula 1

McLaren Accelerates Performance Upgrades, Targets Miami and Imola for Major Gains

McLaren F1 team has revealed significant upgrade plans to boost their performance in the upcoming races, with a special focus on the Miami and Imola circuits. These upgrades aim to address the team’s slower pace compared to Ferrari, as McLaren looks to close the development gap.

Key Takeaways:

  • Major Upgrades in the Pipeline: McLaren is preparing major performance enhancements for the MCL38, targeting races in Miami or Imola. These upgrades are a part of the team’s strategic plan to refine car setups for different circuits, addressing their early-season shortcomings.
  • Chasing Ferrari’s Pace: Despite an improved performance in 2024 over their 2023 season, McLaren acknowledges they are still trailing behind Ferrari. This has catalyzed their focus on significant upgrades to enhance competitiveness.
  • Understanding and Optimizing the Car: Team principal Andrea Stella emphasized the importance of understanding the MCL38’s capabilities and limitations. The team’s experiences at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit have highlighted specific areas for improvement, particularly in long corners and top speed.

The McLaren Formula 1 team, under the leadership of Andrea Stella, has disclosed an ambitious upgrade plan following a sluggish start to the 2024 season. The team aims to introduce major upgrades around the sixth or seventh races of the season, which align with the Miami and Imola Grand Prix.

Despite showing an improved form compared to their 2023 season start, McLaren has been unable to match the developmental strides made by Ferrari. This discrepancy has been a key motivator behind McLaren’s push for significant performance enhancements.

While minor upgrades are on the cards for the Australian and Japanese Grand Prix, the team is particularly focused on a substantial boost in performance expected at Miami or Imola. Andrea Stella, speaking on the upcoming upgrades, said:

“We have some minor things that will come for Australia and hopefully for Japan, but they will be [delivering] a few milliseconds. And then hopefully, within the first third of the season, we will have a major upgrade. It’s going to be for around race six or seven [Miami or Imola].”

Stella also highlighted the need for continuous learning and adaptation, stating:

“I think there is margin to understand the car a little bit more. In Jeddah we had a slightly different approach to set-up between the two cars. And I think we see some interesting positives and negatives. This optimisation is maybe worth like one tenth, it’s not like you can find any magic. We know the car well, apart from this little difference between the two cars that we will review. I think it’s very much a matter of upgrades, or adaptation to the track in relation to the track characteristics.”

Addressing the specific vulnerabilities of the 2024 McLaren car, particularly highlighted at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Stella elaborated:

“You will have seen that anybody behind the McLaren in sector one [in Jeddah] would lose ground. When you have these fast, flowing corners in which it’s enough to do a first steer input, the car responds very well. When instead the corners are long and you need to really hold the steering wheel for a long time, the car gives up a little bit and we lose a lot of time. That is where Ferrari are very strong, and that’s why Leclerc was so competitive in the last sector, just that [last] corner. And the other limitation was still we would like to have more top speed. On those two features we were very well exposed at this track.”

In conclusion, McLaren’s focus on significant upgrades reflects a strategic effort to not only keep pace with their rivals but also to optimize their performance across a variety of circuits. The upcoming races will be critical in determining the effectiveness of these upgrades and McLaren’s ability to challenge the top competitors in Formula 1.

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