McLaren to introduce critical upgrade package in Miami

Jaden Diaz, Andrea Vergani

McLaren was the surprise of the Chinese Grand Prix. Heading into the weekend, Andrea Stella emphasised the importance of capitalising on any opportunities. Naturally, the Sprint race format would provide plenty of chances to either shine or disappoint. The MCL38 was the nearest threat to Red Bull. In the hands of Lando Norris, McLaren even finished ahead of Checo Perez’s RB20, albeit with help from the Safety Car.

Stella: “If we maintain the development trajectory for the next 12 months, why can’t we think about catching up with Red Bull?”

The 2024 season, like the previous two, is also dominated by Max Verstappen. The RB20 is comfortably ahead of the competition, especially in the hands of Verstappen – who is comfortably faster than Perez. In China, without the Dutchman’s presence, McLaren could have celebrated a victory. However, Andrea Stella is uninterested in these hypotheticals.

My attention is focused on how to close the gap to Max, not on what would have happened without him, ” said the Italian engineer.

“I have a lot of admiration for what Max and Red Bull are achieving and I think that winning so consistently isn’t easy.

“Even though they always make it look simple, there are so many reasons why things can go wrong. So hats off for what they are achieving on a technical, operational and sporting level.

McLaren is one of the teams, together with Ferrari and also Mercedes, yet to bring significant upgrades in 2024. The first package of updates will arrive at the next race in Miami, where McLaren can verify whether the development trajectory introduced in Austria 2023 is still valid.

“If we take the last 12 months, we have developed better than any other team. Obviously, Red Bull ended development very early because they were working behind the scenes to innovate the car in a dramatic way and to do that takes months of redesign,” Stella said.

“So, even if we apparently lost ground, this is due to the fact that we had earned so much before. But if we can maintain this development trajectory for the next twelve months, why not think we can catch up with Red Bull?” concluded the Italian engineer. 

This optimism was shared by Lando Norris, who also outlined that race victories are not altogether out of reach.

First MCL38 upgrades arrive in Miami to limit tyre overheating problems 

The first of potentially three major seasonal packages for Norris and Piastri’s car will arrive in Miami, but it will not be as large as those seen in Austria and Singapore last year.

“We will have some updates in Miami. We’ll see how they behave on the track, but we expect them to allow us to take a notable step forward, Andrea Stella said in China.

“This, clearly, if we find the right correlation with the numbers in the wind tunnel and with the CFD.

All of this is always a big “if” because, even if the correlation rate has been good in the last twelve months, there are always possible surprises.”

In this first part of the season, McLaren showed excellent qualities in tyre warm-up during qualifying. However, the performance was a little lacking compared to Ferrari in the race. This is especially true when the asphalt temperatures are higher, as are expected in Miami.

This first update package will not only add overall performance to the MCL38, but also improve tyre usage in the race.

In Miami, it will be very important to manage rear overheating. This is a common issue for the MCL38, especially compared to Ferrari and Red Bull. This is why the Woking team will pay particular attention to this upgrade.

The team’s objective is to limit overheating and challenge Ferrari on more rear-limited tracks. Still, the team is aware that this update package may not be enough to overtake Ferrari. It must be remembered that Ferrari will respond to Imola with upgrades of their own.