McLaren has opened its new wind tunnel, despite various delays leading to its completion only taking place this summer. Yet, the tunnel stands unused. In the interim, the team has been making use of Toyota’s tunnel in Cologne. The logistical challenges of transporting parts to Germany have had a noticeable impact on the team’s pace in producing development parts for its race cars.
In a bid to enhance performance, McLaren has also invested heavily in overhauling various other facilities at its Technology Centre in Woking. The renovations included improving simulation tools and setting up a state-of-the-art manufacturing unit.
Following the hardware upgrades, a significant investment was also made in personnel to help the team break away from the midfield. Among the notable names it has roped in are Rob Marshall from Red Bull and David Sanchez from Ferrari, along with these new recruits, a revised technical structure has been mapped out under the leadership of new team boss Andrea Stella.
McLaren‘s CEO, Zak Brown, acknowledged that the team had to make some tough choices to fit in these investments under F1‘s budget cap. However, he confidently asserted that these new facilities would also contribute to increased efficiency in the long run.
When questioned by F1 Initiative on how McLaren managed such a revamp within the cost cap, Brown highlighted a few impracticalities in their spending. “We weren’t operating our own wind tunnel, we were renting a wind tunnel, so that comes at a higher cost than if you’re just paying operational expenses for your own. We’ve had to make some tough decisions, but also with some of our new technologies coming online, they’re actually financially more efficient and so we’re able to redirect some of that inefficient spend into additional headcount,” explained Brown.
While McLaren‘s upgraded facilities are waiting to be used, a real breakthrough has been seen in the form of a major upgrade package that was tried out during the Austrian and British Grands Prix. These trials helped Lando Norris secure second place and teammate Oscar Piastri to come in fourth at Silverstone.
This significant progress vaulted McLaren to fourth in the constructors’ championship from a lagging position, due in part to an inefficient car at the season’s start. This led to an urgent rethink of techniques.
Ahead of the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix, where further upgrades are planned, Brown singled out team principal Stella for praise. The new technical hierarchy that Stella devised impressively bore fruit before new facilities and staff have completely come on-board. Speaking to Sky Sports F1, an elated Brown said, “This guy is awesome. The way he inherited what we had at the start of the year, recognised the challenges that we had, put in a technical restructure and promoted people from within. Because, while we’ve made some big hires that are joining, they haven’t joined yet, so this is still the work of all the men and women under Andrea’s leadership.”