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McLaren won't create false expectations for F1 2024 for risk of "violent" reality

McLaren Formula 1 team boss Andrea Stella says he doesn't want to set unrealistic expectations for 2024 because then "reality comes to you in a violent way".

Sprint pole winner Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, arrive in Parc Ferme after the Sprint Shootout

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

McLaren enjoyed a remarkable form turnaround in 2023 after a string of mid-season upgrades turned the MCL60 driven by Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri car into a regular podium contender.

The upturn in form, which was the result of a technical restructure implemented by incoming team principal Stella, allowed the Woking squad to overtake Aston Martin for fourth in the constructors' championship.

Its upward trajectory is a cause for optimism for 2024, which will see the first car developed using McLaren's brand-new Woking wind tunnel as well as other upgraded facilities.

But Stella is cautious not to set elevated expectations next year.

"Ultimately in Formula 1, we have the luxury of it being quite quantitative," he said.

"You see what kind of progress you are making in the wind tunnel and the computer simulations and you kind of know that a certain [development] rate will mean two tenths, half a second, seven tenths better at the start of the season.

"Realistically, we know that if you want to retain your competitiveness going into next season, you need to have half a second in hand. Otherwise, it's like what we have seen at the end of a season, it looks like you're moving backwards. It's just because you are steady and everyone is catching up.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

"So, we will first of all look at the data. We already know pretty much this data, which I won't comment on. And then based on that, we will position the entire team internally and externally.

"We don't have to create false expectations because then reality comes to you in a violent way and we don't want to find ourselves in this position.

"At the same time, we don't want to downplay too much and then find we weren't ready to fight at the front and we didn't make good decisions because of that. So just to stick with the data, be realistic, be honest. That's our philosophy."

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Stella alludes to a small regression in race pace over 2023's final events since its final major upgrade in Singapore, which he writes down to McLaren's development of its MCL60 being largely finished after Singapore while other teams continued bringing small steps.

"The way I structure the season is we started uncompetitive, took a step in Austria, another step in Singapore. But there's a final phase of the season in which we have been steady from a development point of view," Stella pointed out.

"Many cars have brought upgrades, some of which have been quite successful. So, it's a phase in which it's not like we have degraded our performance, simply some other cars have closed the gap on us or have even overtaken us.

"Definitely, if we want to enjoy some of the results we have enjoyed in this third phase after Singapore, we do have to make a further step forward going on to next season."

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