McLaren ahead of schedule with 2024 development

Jaden Diaz

McLaren have a very encouraging development trajectory, as they assert themselves as regular contenders for race victories. Before the 2024 season began, team principal Andrea Stella warned that closing the gap to Red Bull could take twelve months. However, much like McLaren’s upgrades from twelve months ago, the MCL38’s new components are exceeding expectations.

“We have to look at things over the long period, and over that long period, we are on a strong trajectory. If we keep this strong trajectory for the next 12 months, why not? We may reach Red Bull.”

These were Andrea Stella’s comments in April, when he outlined that Red Bull were still several steps ahead of his team. Since then, the Woking-based squad has made significant progress with the MCL38.

The upgrades introduced in Miami were always meant to be substantial, but they are actually delivering more performance than McLaren initially expected. Areas that were previously limiting factors for the British team (i.e. slow-speed corners) are no longer major weaknesses.

Moreover, the relatively limited progress at Milton Keynes means that – in relative terms – the MCL38 is in a far better place.


For McLaren, and any other F1 team, being capable of competing at any type of circuit is essential. Putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping that a specific track layout will benefit your car is not a feasible title-winning strategy.

Thankfully for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, they are no longer in a position where their expectations should significantly fluctuate from weekend to weekend.

Three very different circuit configurations – Miami, Imola and Monaco – have seen the MCL38 thrive. Provided there are no unexpected changes, Red Bull and Ferrari will get used to seeing Team Papaya fighting with them at the front.

Another positive development for McLaren is that both Ferrari and Red Bull have also introduced upgrades. The RB20’s updates have been particularly underwhelming, with serious deficiencies (i.e, riding kerbs and bumps) still present. This means that, for the foreseeable future, there will be no major response from rivals to tip the scale.

The F1 budget rewards efficiency and innovation over brute spending. Because of this, the engineers at Woking will see the benefits of their early 2024 upgrades for some time. Red Bull has no major updates planned for the next few rounds, meaning that three teams at the front should become the status quo.

The MCL38 is now very competitive in a straight line and even comfortable with low-speed corners. This should serve them well in Canada, where the reigning Champions are weary of suffering another deficit.

Helmut Marko has admitted the RB20 could struggle against its adversaries in Canada this weekend.

Obviously, this is good news for McLaren. The team also has the luxury of two very evenly matched drivers who can consistently optimise their machinery.

Andrea Stella summarises the increasingly positive situation in Woking:

“It seems that the picture of our competitiveness is finally starting to change. Low speed no longer appears as a clear weakness – a situation that we have been able to change thanks to developments.”