Displaying remarkable growth thanks to their B-spec upgrade rolled out ahead of the summer recess, McLaren indeed seems to have made a significant stride in its Formula 1 campaign. Evidence of this feat was seen last week at the Dutch Grand Prix when Lando Norris, one of the team’s drivers, secured the second qualifying position, lagging behind only Max Verstappen.
This much-anticipated revamp allowed McLaren to throw down the gauntlet and keep pace with other leading teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin in the ever-shifting ranking below Red Bulls. However, a clear-cut victor for the second-fastest team slot remained elusive, with no team being able to steadfastly retain that title.
Team principal Stella, however, offers a slightly sobering outlook. He concedes that the mixed, somewhat challenging weather conditions during the Zandvoort weekend might have falsely amplified McLaren‘s prowess. Despite the successful roll-out of a new rear wing, Stella insists there’s more ground to cover for the team to truly deserve the second position based on consistent performance.
Stella voiced his opinion about the required improvements in McLaren‘s one-lap speed, saying, “To be able to do that, we need to keep developing the car.” He further explained, “Because I think, at this track, in normal, dry conditions potentially Mercedes could have been there with us. They were faster than us in Hungary. If you remember they had pole position, actually.”
Stella also addresses the existing shortfalls of McLaren‘s package for the race. He shares, “So, I think the current package is not enough to be able to fight with Red Bull, certainly, but it’s also not enough to be going to a race and say we’re going to be the second fastest here.” The team intends to roll out additional improvements over the next few races to ameliorate these deficiencies.
Mercedes evidently showcased a superior race pace in the Netherlands, with their racer, Lewis Hamilton, catching the audience’s eye with his spectacular lap times. In spite of starting behind Lando Norris, Hamilton managed to finish ahead of him in the sixth place. Both McLaren and Mercedes, however, botched up their strategy calls early in the race, retaining slicks in wet conditions, thereby giving up any semblance of a shot at the podium.
In terms of priority areas for improvement, Stella reveals that focus is split between enhancing the MCL60‘s aerodynamic efficiency and ensuring the car consistently produces downforce across different circuits, corner types and conditions – an edge that Red Bull‘s RB19 seems to have mastered.
Explaining this outlook, Stella said, “While we are addressing the overall efficiency, we are also trying to make sure that the downforce is less variable as a function of ride heights, yaw angles and so on… So, I think we have improved compared to the start of the season, but we are halfway in the journey compared to where we think we should be, to be at the top of the grid.”