McLaren within striking distance of Red Bull after Qatar GP

Jaden Diaz

McLaren finished the Qatar GP in second and third, underscoring their phenomenal trajectory in 2023. The Woking-based outfit has scored 104 points in the last three rounds – more than any other team.

Mid-season development of the MCL60 has been almost miraculous, transforming from a lower midfield team to a regular podium contender. The lap times from race day also indicate that McLaren could have fought for victory with a different starting grid.

Regardless of whether victory was attainable, the rate of progression at Andrea Stella’s team is something to be excited about.

Unlike the other teams chasing Red Bull, McLaren has introduced large-scale updates that have consistently worked. This is an impressive feat in an era of F1 cars that are extremely sensitive and difficult to optimise.

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60 quickest in Sprint Shootout.
07.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Moreover, the performances of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are allowing the team to capitalise on its speed. Unlike Aston Martin at the start of 2023, the Woking outfit has secured several double-podium finishes.

Speaking after post-race, Lando Norris outlined his evening at the Losail circuit:

“It was a great race and a good start. On Saturday, I went wide at Turn 1, which turned out to be the incorrect thing to do.

“On Sunday, I went tight, and it worked out perfectly.

“A great start led to a good race, and the pace was excellent – it was probably good enough to keep up with Max. We just lost a lot in traffic.

“The pace was great behind Oscar. I just couldn’t get close enough in the dirty air.

“This was the toughest race I’ve done physically, but it was good fun – it always is when you are fighting for these positions. I kept pushing till the end; it was a rewarding race.”

Clearly, the situation at McLaren is very promising – perhaps more so than anywhere else on the grid.

As the winter break approaches, McLaren has every reason to carry this momentum and establish themselves as front-runners from the first round of 2024.