McLaren have endured a very mixed 2022 season, where they’ve had to deal with legal issues off the circuit which have somewhat affected their on-track performance.
The Woking-based team’s 2022 challenger is not capable of fighting with the frontrunning teams, unlike in recent seasons; however, it is capable of battling Alpine for an all-important fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Alpine have been McLaren’s rivals in all aspects this season, following their FIA Contract Recognition Board case regarding the British team’s new driver Oscar Piastri, who Alpine argued was theirs for 2023.
The French side currently occupy fourth place, with McLaren sitting a mere 18 points behind.
With six races remaining and with the future of the team sorted, the papaya side have opted for an “aggressive approach” to the final part of the season.
McLaren technical director James Key has hinted that one final big upgrade is in the pipeline for the MCL36, something which could see Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have the edge over Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
Norris has had to carry the team’s fight for fourth on his own shoulders, as Ricciardo has once again struggled to perform all season.
At the Enstone-based team it’s been the complete opposite, with both Alonso and Ocon having performed to a similar level.
Should Ricciardo find some form before he departs the team at the end of the season, then this could make McLaren favourites to claim fourth.
Key explained that the team has opted for an “aggressive approach” with all of their upgrades this season, and that this mantra won’t be ending just yet.
“With regards to the actual packages of updates we’ve done, it has been an aggressive approach,” Key said in a Q&A on McLaren’s website.
“For each development step, we have done a lot of work on them, and they last for a duration of five or six races, and each package has then worked as planned, producing several tenths of performance each step, so we’re happy with that.
“We’ve got another new package to come, which we are working on now, and then there will be a few minor ones to follow in the remaining races. I would say that we’ve brought a lot to the track and we’ve gotten what we wanted from it.
“However, I think the standards that we’ve seen within the top three teams show what you’ve got to be able to achieve.”
Fourth would be a consolidation for McLaren this season, after they appear to have certainly taken a step backwards compared to 2021.
The team achieved many podiums and even a victory last year, whereas this season they’ve only stepped on the rostrum once.
Key is hopeful that next year will be better, if they have a strong car from the “start of the season”.
“If you start the season with a competitive car, you can adapt your development plans from there and do less than what we have done whilst being more focused on the areas that you feel will be the most prolific,” he said.
“That’s where we want to be next year, as we wouldn’t be able to maintain this aggressive level of development because it’s full on.
“We can learn a lot from this year, and the team have done a great job to achieve what they have.”