McLaren is back, and they mean business. The recently concluded Hungary Grand Prix showcased their incredible progress, proving that their 2023 car is a force to be reckoned with, now even surpassing the performance of their impressive 2021 machine on various circuits. Their resurgence has sent shockwaves through the paddock, leaving competitors like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin with plenty to worry about as the season progresses.
The most exciting aspect of McLaren’s resurgence is that their much-talked-about upgrade is only 75% complete, and the fact that the Papaya team still have further improvements in the pipeline is a cause for concern for other teams, especially after Lewis Hamilton referred to the MCL60 as ‘a rocketship’.
McLaren has a rich history of success in Formula 1, although their glory days were often overshadowed by the dominance of Michael Schumacher, who seemed to win everything in sight. Despite this, McLaren never strayed too far from the spotlight and consistently challenged the Scuderia in spectacular fashion.
However, consistent success has eluded them, as evidenced by their fourth-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship in their best season in recent times, back in 2021. The introduction of new regulations further compounded their challenges. Yet, since the Austrian Grand Prix, there has been a notable shift in momentum, signaling McLaren’s return to form.
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Back to McLaren – What sets McLaren’s approach apart from other teams, such as Mercedes, who have been heavily criticised in recent times, is their strategy in dealing with a lackluster car at the start of the season.
Rather than rushing into hasty upgrades, McLaren wisely decided to bide their time and focus on preparing a comprehensive and well-thought-out upgrade. This approach paid off handsomely, as their current car is now a formidable contender on the track, with almost every aerodynamic surface revamped for optimal performance. The upgrade process was conducted in stages, beginning with a 50% overhaul to Lando Norris’ car during the Austrian Grand Prix and included new side pods, inlets, and a complete floor overhaul. The results were promising and laid the foundation for the subsequent improvements.
The second phase, a 25% upgrade, was introduced at Silverstone. This round of enhancements focused on the rear suspension, nose cone, and front wing, further improving the car’s overall performance. As McLaren’s upgrade program continues, the difference between Norris’ and Piastri’s cars is becoming increasingly reduced, and the results were evident on the track, with both Lando Norris and his teammate Oscar Piastri performing exceptionally well, as witnessed during the Silverstone race.
The most exciting prospect for McLaren is that there is a final 25% upgrade scheduled to arrive after the summer break. Should this last installment match the success of its predecessors, McLaren’s rivals might have a daunting challenge ahead in catching up to the resurgent team. Andrea Stella, McLaren’s team principal, expressed enthusiasm about the team’s current trajectory, asserting that these upgrades are just the beginning of what their new team and structure can achieve.