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McLaren tips Mercedes to “jump back” strongly in F1 2024

McLaren says the encouraging development of its 2024 Formula 1 car offers no guarantee of bigger success because it expects Mercedes to “jump back” strongly next year.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

The Woking-based team has impressed greatly this season, having transformed its MCL60 from a midfield contender at the start of the campaign to fighting regularly for podium finishes. 

PLUS: How McLaren has revamped its F1 team to become a contender again

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said recently that it has not yet achieved half of what it wants to do with its car’s aerodynamics. 

That means there is good scope for it to make a big jump in 2024, especially with its new car being the first to be produced exclusively from a state-of-the-art wind tunnel in Woking. 

But while McLaren currently appears to be Red Bull’s main threat, scoring a double podium at last month's Japanese Grand Prix, Stella is cautious about any progress the team makes guaranteeing better results next year. 

He is especially mindful that multiple world champion squad Mercedes has the potential to strike back with its W15 off the back of a fundamental redesign that it is planning. 

Asked about his thoughts on McLaren’s prospects for 2024, Stella said: “At the moment, we are encouraged by the development we see on next year's car.  

“But, at the same time, I guess it's the same for everyone because right now some concepts are starting to be quite clear across the paddock. 

“We don't know whether we are developing faster than other teams. And above all, we don't know whether we are developing faster than Red Bull.  

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 3rd position, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, the McLaren team celebrate after the race

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 3rd position, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, the McLaren team celebrate after the race

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“And let's not forget that Mercedes, I think they realised what they need to work on. And I suspect they're going to jump back quite strongly.  

“There are no factual elements at this stage to say this is the pecking order we'll see next year. I think things can evolve.” 

While mindful about how things will shake up next year, Stella does admit that progress this year has been better than anticipated – but beating targets ultimately means little to him. 

“I'm focused on the process,” he said. “You can have targets, and you can say, these are my two, three milestones from a results point of view.

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“But in reality, you don't work against that. You work just at the fastest, reasonable pace that can be sustained in development. Then we see where we end up.  

“If you go faster, you may start jumping the gun, shortcutting, and finding yourself bringing things trackside, and they don't work because you haven't been methodical enough. So that's how we work.

“Looking at the season, if we really want to check against this best expectation, I think we are slightly ahead of where we would have expected to be even in the most optimistic prediction.”

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