Stella Gives Insight Into Strengths And Limitations Of McLaren's 2024 Challenger

Monday, 18 March 2024 at 07:30
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Andrea Stella- the team principal at McLaren, revealed to the media the most significant areas of performance gains and losses on the MCL38.
McLaren is off to a slower start to the season than the team would have hoped for. However, the Papaya team is also in a much better place compared to where they were last year at this point in the season (last in the Championship).
The team principal of McLaren, Andrea Stella, suggested that while the car is clearly slower than its rivals in some areas, it also has its strengths, like fast corners. He said:

"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."

McLaren's advantage in the first sector was most visible from Lewis Hamilton's onboard camera, which tried to follow Lando Norris through nine corners in the first sector of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. The Mercedes driver lost 0.8 seconds to the 24-year-old in only one sector.
Admittedly, Mercedes was one of the slowest cars in the first sector, and Hamilton would also lose some time in the dirty air, but eight-tenths of a second is a considerable gap.
On the other hand, Norris would lose time to the 39-year-old in longer corners and on straights. The 53-year-old team principal explained:

"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."

The other McLaren driver, Oscar Piastri, was stuck behind Lewis Hamilton for a significant portion of the race because he didn't have the straight-line speed to overtake the Briton. Stella added:

"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."

The British team is working intensely on solving these issues and will bring minor upgrades to their car during the two upcoming races.
However, these are not expected to make a big difference. McLaren's first major upgrade is expected around the Miami or Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.