The McLaren team, based in Woking, is garnering praise this season for their substantial transformation of their MCL60 vehicle, evolving from a midfield runner to becoming contenders for regular podium finishes. Andrea Stella, the team principal at McLaren, though pleased with their current form, acknowledges that they have only reached halfway of their targeted advancements in the aerobic design of their car.
This substantial room for augmentation suggests a possible massive leap forward for McLaren in 2024. This statement is amplified by the fact that the car to be introduced in 2024 will be the first to be exclusively constructed in their new Woking wind tunnel, a state-of-the-art facility.
However, McLaren‘s technical director, Andrea Stella, while acknowledging the improvement and the logistic advantage of the company, remains reserved about guaranteeing enhanced results in the following year. Above all, he expresses caution against highly successful teams like Mercedes, that could potentially come back with a wholly redesigned W15, thereby balancing the scales once again.
On being questioned about the upcoming prospects in 2024 for McLaren, Stella answers, “At the moment, we are encouraged by the development we see on next year’s car.” Yet, he underscores the uncertainty that persists in comparing the rate of their development vis-a-vis other teams, particularly with titans like Red Bull. “We don’t know whether we are developing faster than other teams. And above all, we don’t know whether we are developing faster than Red Bull,” he said.
Stella also noted Mercedes‘ potential to recoup and reintroduces the logical element of caution by stating, “And let’s not forget that Mercedes, I think they realized what they need to work on. And I suspect they’re going to jump back quite strongly.” Ultimately, he emphasized the element of unpredictability and the contingencies that stand in the way of drawing a definite pecking order for the coming year.
In spite of these reservations, Stella does concede that the team has surpassed their own expectations in terms of progress this year. However, Stella adds this doesn’t earn much weight. Rather, he prefers to focus on the process. He outlines his work principle by saying, “You can have targets, and you can say, these are my two, three milestones from a results point of view. But in reality, you don’t work against that. You work just at the fastest, reasonable pace that can be sustained in development. Then we see where we end up.”
Stella emphasizes on avoiding haste in development, to prevent compromises in methodology and effectiveness, “If you go faster, you may start jumping the gun, shortcutting, and finding yourself bringing things trackside, and they don’t work because you haven’t been methodical enough. So that’s how we work.”
Touching upon the team’s performances this season, Stella said, “Looking at the season, if we really want to check against this best expectation, I think we are slightly ahead of where we would have expected to be even in the most optimistic prediction.”