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“No excuses” for F1 teams chasing Red Bull - McLaren boss Stella

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella says that rival Formula 1 outfits have “no excuses” as they try to close the gap to the currently dominant Red Bull Racing squad.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Stella says Red Bull has simply done everything better than the rest and that now it’s a question of trying to match that progress.

McLaren made a step towards that goal this week by announcing a restructuring that included the departure of erstwhile technical director James Key.

Insight: Why McLaren's revamp is not just about its 2023 F1 car struggles

Stella says that other teams simply have to look at the RB19 to understand what they have to do to find more speed.

"We've had really phenomenal seasons in the previous years in terms of how close the competition for the victory was,” he told Autosport when asked about Red Bull's current form.

“We might even have to accept that there's a season in which one team is dominant. 

"But I think with all the information you have now, even with the possibility that you have to look at the car, like we have cars on display on Friday, there's no excuses for the other teams to say we don't know what to do.

“So for me, I keep saying it's more for the other teams that they need to take this opportunity to improve.

“Ultimately it's a sport which, if you are faster, you're going to win races. I don't think there's an easy solution.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Stella suggested that even Red Bull’s cost cap penalty – which gives it even less wind tunnel time and CFD usage relative to rivals than it would have had as the champion team – will not necessarily be a handicap.

“The advantage at the moment seems large enough that they shouldn't be affected too much in terms of the gap that they show by the fact that they can’t develop as much as the teams behind them,” he said.

“That's my expectation, but I would expect that other teams should take not only inspiration from a morale point of view, but a technical inspiration.

“The season is long and there is time to transform this information you get into developments, therefore I would expect towards the end of the season that the group will get even closer to Red Bull.”

Stella conceded that Aston Martin’s leap in form over the winter, with the team securing podiums in both of the opening two races with Fernando Alonso, proved that progress can be made.

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“That's indeed showing that you can make these kinds of jumps,” he said.

“In a way the gaps apart from Red Bull have shrunk down. So if you make a jump, you can compete for good points.

“I think Aston seem to have identified the right concepts on the car, and pursued those concepts. And again, it shows that this is possible.

“So it just reiterates the fundamental message of McLaren. We need to work hard to keep developing the car.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“As we see in development, in the background, it is positive, it is alive in development. We need to pursue this direction and capitalise soon.”

Asked to rank McLaren in the 2023 pecking order, he said: “It's so close from fifth to last, really, that the differences is tiny. So I wouldn't put a number on where we think we are. 

“I think Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston and Mercedes are definitely sort of a step ahead of us. Probably Alpine as well. And I think us and sort of the rest of the field, it's extremely tight. 

“So, yeah, I wouldn't put a number on where we are, but I think we're somewhere in the middle there.”

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