McLaren says it will introduce a near-B-spec version of its MCL60 prior to the summer break in a bid to improve its competitive placement in Formula 1 this year.
McLaren has endured a tough start to the 2023 campaign after acknowledging at the launch of its MCL60 that it had opted to undertake a different development path late in 2022.
The first upgrades of that new direction will be introduced at the next round in Azerbaijan, meaning McLaren is using its outdated launch concept once more in Australia this weekend.
While McLaren has shown flashes of performance in the midfield, with rookie Oscar Piastri making Q3 in Saudi Arabia, it has yet to score a point this year owing to a combination of reliability setbacks and misfortune.
It announced after the last event in Saudi Arabia that it has implemented a new technical model, with James Key departing, and ex-Ferrari engineer David Sanchez due to arrive in 2024.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella outlined that: “The improvement of car performance should start in Baku.
“The improvement in Baku should affect an area of the car that I think has been clear from the presentation of the car, we weren’t entirely happy with in terms of development. It’s just the first step.
“We would expect definitely another major upgrade, which will address more areas of the car. It will be much more apparent, it’s what somebody may call kind of a B-spec car.
“And then we expect to have a further round of upgrades in the second part of the season after the shutdown.
“So we have three main steps: Baku, later on – I don’t want to commit to any date, but before shutdown – and then after shutdown.
“We hope that each of them will be able to provide a few tenths of a second, so that we put ourselves in a more realistic position to meet our ambition to become a top four car towards the end of the season.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown explained the decision to implement a revised technical model.
“In the second half of the year we were looking at how development was going,” said Brown.
“Obviously we started the year with some challenges in testing with the brake ducts, the car was okay, then we had driver-related issues to work through which took the attention if you like and the headlines.
“Meanwhile underneath the surface I wasn’t happy with the pace of the development of the racing car.
“We had a Team Principal change towards the end of the year which allowed me the opportunity to be more aggressive in working with Andrea to give him the mandate of ‘take a look at the team’, that’s exactly what he did, and obviously he having been there he wasn’t starting from ground zero if you like.
“Ultimately he came up with a model that makes total sense to us and those internally, and went about starting to put those plans in place and so when we made the announcement it’d been in the works for some time and was coincidental to our poor start to the season.”