Andrea Stella: McLaren will struggle to fight Red Bull and Ferrari

25 Feb, 2024

In these three days of pre-season testing, there was a lot of anticipation to understand how McLaren had worked during the winter, after the gigantic steps forward starting from last year’s Austrian GP and a second half of the world championship on average as second Force. The planned program suffered several setbacks.

The first was in the afternoon of the second day when a fuel tank problem prevented Lando Norris from completing the always-important race simulation.

Just as a second, on the morning of the last day, a clutch problem still kept the English driver stuck, certainly not lucky in these first 24 hours of the 2024 season.

Stella: “The MCL38 showed us on the track what we expected but the Bahrain track is not the best for us”

McLaren was thus the penultimate car on the track in terms of kilometres travelled, 1780 (almost 6 GPs) compared to 2251 (more than 7 GPs) for the Ferrari.

Oscar Piastri still managed to simulate a GP in the afternoon of the same day, however, with rather slow times compared to those of both Ferraris, albeit with much more limited tyre degradation, especially with the softer compound (C3).

However, the first results obtained on the track satisfy the technical department of the Woking team. “From a performance point of view, the MCL38 showed us what we expected on the track,” – stated the TP of the Woking team, who then explained further:

“This is good news because there are some innovations in the car, and we were waiting to see how they would work on the track.”  


However, according to McLaren, the steps forward by Red Bull and Ferrari would be especially important.

In Woking, they think that it will be difficult for them to compete with the Italian team in their debut GP, also due to the Bahrain track, which would not go well with the MCL38.

“We have to be cautious because some teams seem to have made a good step forward during the winter, and Bahrain is not the ideal track for our car, ” Andrea Stella said.

The MCL38 is a good basis for development, which will not follow that of Red Bull

However, the season does not stop at the Bahrain GP, ​​on a track that remains atypical, especially in certain technical aspects. It was important for the teams to evaluate the work carried out during the winter weeks on the track, on cars where it is easier to lose correlation.

“The MCL38 is a good basis for development and is certainly a step up from last year’s car,” Andrea Stella always made known, who then went into more detail.

“Some of our weak points have been improved. I’m thinking of the grip on the rear, even if, in general, we still need to add aerodynamic performance.

“Then we still have some margin to improve from a mechanical point of view and in terms of interaction with the tyres.”

The important thing is that the MCL38 should not be corrected in some areas, but rather, it is simply a question of developments; some of these are not yet in the car due to timing issues and will arrive within the first GPs of the season.


Red Bull has opened a new path of development with the RB20, revolutionizing the cooling and consequently a large part of the aerodynamic surfaces in the central and final part of its car.

However, although Stella was truly impressed by the aesthetic and chronometric progress of Adrian Newey’s new car, the Woking team will not follow that path.

“We will continue on our way. There are some areas of the McLaren MCL38 that have evolved significantly, while others that have improved only marginally.

“But we see that there is actually still a lot of potential in the development, and it has nothing to do with such a major redesign.

“We are confident in our development and the concepts we currently have in the car,” said the ever-precise Andrea Stella.

He remains very confident of being able to maintain that very steep development line that began last year and which led to the updates seen in Austria, Singapore and on the MCL38.

Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang