Newly appointed team principal Andrea Stella saw the conclusion of the winter season as the perfect opportunity to perform an in-depth review of the Woking-design department at McLaren. The outcome? A significant transformation at multiple leadership levels.
As part of the revamp, technical chief James Key was let go. In his place, leadership was restructured and supplemented with the recruitment of David Sanchez from the ranks of Ferrari, and Rob Marshall, a seasoned engineer from Red Bull.
McLaren‘s MCL60 underwent major enhancements as a result of the changes in the setup. Initially a car trailing in the early races, the MCL60 swiftly found itself on the podium in the British and Hungarian Grands Prix. The car also secured a bronze spot in the Spa sprint, showing clear signs of improvement going into the summer break.
Zak Brown, the McLaren Racing CEO, gave his seal of approval for the building of a brand-new wind tunnel and simulator within the McLaren premises. With their completion, he anticipates that the team will have filled its “big gaps”, setting the stage for a shot at the championship in the following seasons.
In an exclusive interview with F1 Initiative, Brown stated, “I think, other than constant fine-tuning, there’s not big gaps like we’ve had the last five years”. According to him, the things that previously held the team back such as not having a personal wind tunnel, utilizing a two-decade-old simulator, and lagging behind in CFD technology will soon be a thing of the past. The focus will now shift towards refining and fine-tuning.
However, Brown also indicated that the major rewards of these changes might not be evident until 2025. This is reportedly due to the time required for the newly assembled F1 team to acclimatize and reach optimum performance.
He further commented, “Other than you’re obviously always fine-tuning, we’ll have everything that we need”. Brown considers this the phase where it will be about giving everything time to “come together, culturally, communications”. He enthused about not needing to make many announcements related to further upgrades.
Highlighting the leadership and structural changes, Brown said, “We have different leadership and structure. Then we have new people coming in, which should be another contribution to performance”. He also mentioned that while new resources like the wind tunnel are coming into play, it won’t be until 2025 that every cog in the wheel, started from a fresh sheet, including Rob Marshall and David Sanchez, would be in place.
Concluding his insights, Brown commended the current efforts saying, “I’m quite proud of everything that the team has done. So, everything that we’re bringing in is additive, just more horsepower, which we should then see another step up in 2025”. This insinuates his belief in the McLaren team’s prospective success in the years to come.