Andrea Stella talks about issues McLaren faced in F1 2024 Bahrain Test, and how they are shaping up for early part of the season.

After coming with heavy expectation into the F1 2024 Bahrain Test, McLaren left the three-day in a 50-50 situation from the outside. They had a much better time than they have had in recent times, but it was much better this year with less gremlins.

They still faced multiple issues which hampered Lando Norris predominantly, while Oscar Piastri had his problems too. Despite the issues, McLaren still managed to get through their programme though and pace wise, they are in a good shape per se.

While Red Bull is certainly the class apart, McLaren are seemingly in the fight against Ferrari along with Mercedes and even Aston Martin. Team principal Stella notes that they have managed to eliminate some of the weakness that they had in 2023.

Regarding the innovations that Stella expressed at the launch, the Italian has played down if things will be as dramatic as Red Bull. Also, when asked if the development will be much better for McLaren, he says there won’t be much change in it.

Issues at test –

Stella: “We had to check something in the fuel tank on the second day. It allowed us to run while we were starting race simulation, but actually, we needed to stop the race simulation, so we didn’t bring this achievement home because we needed to get into the fuel system, we changed some parts, and the car was in condition to go again. So a little setback, but we have identified and we will look into what the exact reason is. In terms of report from the test days, I would say that starting from a performance point of view, the car delivers what we expected. So no big surprises, which in itself is some good news because there’s some elements of innovation. Definitely, we wanted to see how they would have worked track side and they seem in line with expectations.

“I think the car is a good foundation for development. It’s a step forward compared to last year’s car. But overall, I can see that many cars have made a step forward, which is normal. Everyone finds performance in every week of development. There’s one car that seemed to have found a big step, unfortunately the car that was already the quickest last year. And even some cars, I would say the group was already quite compact last year and to me it looks like even more compact this year. So that’s what we have learned from a competitiveness point of view. Otherwise, apart from this little setback on the fuel system, it’s been a relatively good session. Oscar and Lando could learn everything, pretty much we could learn in a couple of days.”

Weakness worked upon –

Stella: “I think some of the weaknesses have been improved. For instance, we are, I would say, happier with the grip at the rear axle, which was one of the aspects that we wanted to work on. Overall, there is more grip in the car, but there’s some aspects that we still have some work to improve, let’s say the fact that the major performance opportunity remains overall grip. It’s not like you need to correct features, you just have to put more grip on the car, which mainly comes from aerodynamic performance. But we have some more margin to improve also from a mechanical point of view and also in terms of interaction with the tyres. So in all these three aspects, like I said before, aerodynamic, mechanical grip, interaction with the tyres, we plan to bring developments over the course of the season.”

Innovations dramatic as Red Bull to come –

Stella: “Completely different. No, let’s say that there are some areas of the car in this launch specification that have significantly evolved compared to last year. Some of them are very noticeable. There are some other areas that have only incrementally improved but we see in the background in development that there’s actually quite a lot of potential which we didn’t exploit in time to make it for the launch car. But it’s nothing to do with major redesign like it would be required to achieve what Red Bull has done. We are confident in our development. We are confident in the concepts that we have in the car but if anything it’s a matter of how far you are in the journey. Clearly, they have been ahead in this journey and they sort of keep this margin in terms of where they are positioned in their development journey.”

Development rate better –

Stella: “I wouldn’t say for us. The development is very much affected by the winning, the losing. Or not even by how these weekends go. Because effectively, even if some weekend may give you some new learning, when it comes to the fundamental development that increases the aerodynamic efficiency, this is almost independent of what happens on track. You know that you have to have very robust flow physics from an aerodynamic point of view. You need to increase your downforce. You need to reduce the drag. That’s the fundamental objective that we have. And I don’t think that this has changed. And the way we work has changed very much based on what happened last year. And what has happened with this car is that we have introduced some concepts that have unlocked some more performance. But we haven’t cashed this performance in entirely.”

Here’s Andrea Stella on objectives of McLaren in 2024

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