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Lando Norris

Ex-F1 team boss delivers McLaren advice in Red Bull chase

McLaren bested Red Bull to the top step of the podium in Miami last weekend as Lando Norris claimed his first grand prix win.

Norris Miami
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

Ex-Formula 1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer has revealed how McLaren must operate if it wishes to consistently battle Red Bull.

Lando Norris claimed his maiden race win on Sunday at the Miami Grand Prix, prevailing ahead of Max Verstappen who won four out of the opening six races.

McLaren arrived at the Miami International Autodrome with a major upgrade package fitted to Norris’ car.

Speaking on the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, former Aston Martin and Alpine boss Szafnauer outlined that McLaren can’t afford to slow down its development schedule if it wants to consistently battle Red Bull.

“When you’re not winning and you’re chasing the world champions, this is exactly what you have to do,” he said.

“You have to make sure you bring upgrades at a higher cadence than the guy you’re chasing and you have to bring upgrades that always perform.

“You can’t go sideways or backwards. Their big upgrades always result in better on-track performance which is crucial.”

Development race

While McLaren has successfully upgraded its car over the last year, Red Bull is not standing still in the fight.

Reports have suggested the reigning world champions will bring upgrades to the upcoming event from Imola, prompting Szafnauer to highlight that McLaren must focus on ensuring the impact of its upgrades is greater than Red Bull.

“The other thing you have to do is either bring them more often or when you do bring them, they have to be bigger than your competition so you can actually make ground up,” he said.

“It looks like, from the outside as I haven’t worked there, it looks like they’ve been able to do that.

“Last year they started the season and were very, very poor. By the end, they were very good and they’ve continued on that same trajectory.

“That’s really, really important for them if they aspire to do even better. It’s like I said, bring more of them or when you do bring them, [make sure] they’re more significant than your competition and [that] they work.”

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Development schedule

Red Bull has boasted a large gap over the competition across the last two years, winning 84 per cent of races since the start of 2022.

As its rivals look to close the gap, Szafnauer detailed the significant job it takes to bring an upgrade from its conception to hitting the track.

“It does depend how big it is but it does take a lot of time, effort and resources,” he said. “If you bring an upgrade like they did here, first the tunnel, you have to find those upgrades in the tunnel through CFD, your model design, your model makers.

“Once you have that and you’re happy with it, you release it to full size. Sometimes you release as you go so you save some time.

“It goes through full-size design, manufacturing and then putting it on the car.

“That can take eight, 10 or 12 weeks depending on what you’re making. It is a big effort, and in those weeks, it’s a big part of the organisation that’s actually working on it.

“When you see the McLaren seniors, the team principal and CEO thanking everyone back at the factory, they’re absolutely right in doing so because it’s a huge effort from the factory to do what they’ve done.”

Listen to the full RacingNews365 podcast with Otmar Szafnauer below.

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