McLaren notes about the upgrades that they have planned for the upcoming F1 races, but they are not thinking it will close the gap hugely.

After the way McLaren ended the 2023 F1 season, there were bigger eyes on what the team can do in 2024. In fact, the outfit themselves were building onto the new season with big optimism despite being a touch realistic about the situation around.

While everybody had one eye on Red Bull being the leaders again, there was some hope of catching them. But for now, they are clearly ahead leaving the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin together with McLaren to fight for the positions behind.

They are so close that any slip-up can change the order. This tight pack requires a development race which McLaren is certainly up for. They have a plan for a string of updates to steady the ship and then drop a bigger one to push it more.

“We have some minor things that will come for Australia and hopefully for Japan, but they will be delivering a few milliseconds,” said McLaren team chief Andrea Stella. “And then hopefully, within the first third of the season, we will have a major upgrade. It’s going to be for around race six or seven.

“I think there is margin to understand the car a little bit more. In Jeddah we had a slightly different approach to set-up between the two cars. And I think we see some interesting positives and negatives. This optimisation is maybe worth like one tenth, it’s not like you can find any magic.

“We know the car well, apart from this little difference between the two cars that we will review. I think it’s very much a matter of upgrades, or adaptation to the track in relation to the track characteristics,” summed up Stella who explained where McLaren were lacking in Jeddah, with long corners proving to be detrimental for them.

“You will have seen that anybody behind the McLaren in sector one [in Jeddah] would lose ground,” explained Stella. “When you have these fast flowing corners in which it’s enough to do a first steer input, the car responds very well. When instead the corners are long and you need to really hold the steering wheel for a long time, the car gives up a little bit and we lose a lot of time.

“That is where Ferrari are very strong, and that’s why Leclerc was so competitive in the last sector, just that [last] corner. And the other limitation was still we would like to have more top speed. On those two features we were very well exposed at this track,” summed up Stella, as Lando Norris noted about the upgrade plan himself.

“Some of these things, they’re minor things that make a couple of hundredths difference here and there,” said Norris. “The thing is when you have three of four of those things which make a couple of hundredths of difference, maybe you can talk about a tenth. When you’re talking about a tenth, you’re already talking about a good step.

“They’re things that everyone is going to be doing. Every weekend you bring little things that are a bit lighter or a bit more efficient and things of that type, but every team is doing that. Of course we’re trying to make ours bigger and more efficient and all of those things, but those types are not things that are tackling our biggest weakness as a team at the minute. They’re just kind of background development items which help the car go a bit quicker.”

Here’s McLaren testing at Imola

Here’s Oscar Piastri on P4 finish

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