McLaren requires “urgent work” after F1 Belgian GP reality check

McLaren requires “urgent work” to remedy weaknesses exposed by the “reality check” that was the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix, according to the Formula 1 team’s boss Andrea Stella.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

The team has gradually introduced a major upgrade package for its MCL60, but drivers and management have sought to play down expectations for recent races. Nevertheless, McLaren scored podiums at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and in the Spa sprint race last weekend.

However, Lando Norris then classified seventh in the Belgian GP after dropping three places during the opening stint due to struggles on the medium tyres. He then made an earlier stop for hard tyres, which similarly backfired to leave the Briton feeling as though he was running “last”.

With Oscar Piastri retiring owing to steering damage from a first-corner collision with Carlos Sainz, Stella reckoned the Spa weekend had proved a “reality check” and showed that his team had “urgent work” to undertake to resolve weaknesses that would carry over to the Italian GP.

He said: “This weekend told us that where we could do work.

“The car is improved in some areas. This was confirmed. But, at the same time, this weekend confirmed the areas that we haven't addressed yet.

“[It] gives us a reality check that there's more work to do and, to some extent, confirms that those areas, they need to be addressed quite urgently.

“This urgency, for instance, comes from the fact that a second race after [the summer] shutdown is Monza. You can't go racing in Monza like [we did in Spa].

“So, there's urgent work that needs to happen at McLaren to fix the situation.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, leads Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, leads Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

McLaren’s Spa vulnerability was on account of having piled design and production resources into bringing the radical update, but the trade-off meant turning up to the high-speed circuit without an optimised low-drag rear wing specification - an element that will be critical for Monza.

Stella continued: “We have to very frankly admit that, while this configuration gave us an advantage in the previous days, [the GP] was starting to be a significant issue.

The Italian added: “Overall, let's say there's some learning we take out of this weekend. I think the opportunity to remark is not like we necessarily wanted to target this configuration.

“Fixing the efficiency of the car at low drag is on the to-do list. But it was lower than some of the priorities that we have worked on in the previous months.”

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After his compromised race strategy, Norris implied that the team’s focus on upgrading the car had come at the expense of race execution. But Stella moved to clarify any relationship.

He said: “I don't think there's a correlation between the fact that we were focused on the upgrades and then the decisions on set-up that you make once you are here in Spa.

“The real correlation is the fact that, because we were very busy on working on other things, we didn't have the time to work on low-drag rear wings.”

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