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Brown throws down McLaren challenge after upgrade boost

McLaren enjoyed their best result of the season in Austria, with boss Zak Brown setting a target for the season.

Zak Brown believes Alpine are "definitely beatable" as McLaren appeared to turn a corner in the 2023 Formula 1 season with their latest upgrades. The Woking squad have endured a quiet start to the campaign, admitting at the launch of the MCL60 that targets had been missed and it would take a few races to show their true pace. The first part of a sizeable upgrade package was delivered to Lando Norris's car for the Austrian Grand Prix, with the Briton delivering a strong performance throughout to eventually bank fourth place - his and the team's best result since last year's Singapore Grand Prix. With Aston Martin having made a leap forward to break into the so-called 'big three' teams, McLaren and midfield rivals Alpine are fighting over fifth place in the standings - with Brown urging the team to not make any blunders in the race.

Brown urges McLaren

"They're definitely beatable, but it's going to be tough," Brown told select media including RacingNews365 of the battle with Alpine. "Up to this point, they've got a fast racing car and two drivers that have the ability to run at the front, and I am sure they've got upgrades coming. "We'll have Oscar's car [at Silverstone] where Lando's car was [in Austria], Lando will have some further upgrades that Oscar will have one race later and then we do have, as other teams do, upgrades throughout the year - and one more significant upgrade coming later in the year. "We're in the race with Alpine now and I think we can't make any mistakes. "We're going to have to have a good reliable car, get our pitstops right, our starts right, and not have any unlucky incidents, but I think the fight with Alpine will go on [throughout] the year."

Pleased with results from Stella

There have been some big reshuffles at McLaren in 2023, starting with Andreas Seidl leaving his role as team boss to join Alfa Romeo/Sauber ahead of Audi's entry for 2026, to be replaced by Andrea Stella. Technical Director James Key also left his position, to be replaced by a new structure including David Sanchez from Ferrari and Rob Marshall from Red Bull - with the duo set to join once gardening leave periods end. And CEO Brown says he is happy with what Stella and the restructured technical department are producing. "I'm very happy with everything I'm seeing out of Andrea and the racing team," Brown said. "From the minute I put Andrea in charge, we called out position out at the launch, we knew we weren't going to be strong at the start of the year and weren't surprised by it. "Andrea then went about making changes rapidly - and when we look at our development curve from when he restructured, moving some people around, bringing in some new people who haven't started, the development rate has been much better than we saw last year. "Austria was a great validation, as we thought we'd be pretty strong. "We need to make sure that continues at other races and that it wasn't track specific, we've got a lot more development coming. "Our hopes, I wouldn't want to predict where it will be, but our desires are that it'd be mingling with the top four teams like we did [in Austria.] "Obviously, there's a big points gap with the top four teams, so whether we can match that is probably a tall order. "The battle with Alpine and others for fifth is very much on, and I hope that we can continue with the development race and have more weekends like we had [in Austria] where we are playing with the top four teams on a per race basis."

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