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McLaren in warning to rest of F1 field over upgrades

McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella does not believe that teams will be able to continue to deliver upgrades and have the same levels of impact.

Stella Zandvoort
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Andrea Stella believes that the upgrades Formula 1 teams are able to deliver will hit a level of "diminishing returns" by the end of 2024.

Since the adoption of the ground-effect regulations in 2022, teams have been able to introduce upgrades and add huge chunks of performance, more so than in any other era of Grand Prix racing.

McLaren introduced two mid-season upgrades in 2023 in Austria and Singapore that transformed the car from also-ran to podium contender to second fastest behind Red Bull under Stella's leadership in his first season as Team Principal.

The MCL38 was unveiled on Wednesday, with the team believing a 'lot of hard work' is needed to maintain its level of 2023, believing a 'lot of hard work' is needed to maintain its level of 2023, but Stella has warned that teams will begin to find it harder to find such vast performance boosts as the rules cycle enters it third season, with teams now converging on the ideal car concept.

F1's diminishing returns

"Rather than being specific, I'll keep it relatively general, but they effectively have to do with improving the aerodynamic performance, the mechanical side and interaction with the tyres," Stella explained when asked by RacingNews365 what areas the team were unable to address with the launch-spec car.

"There are a few key projects that we had started, we saw that they had potential, but we just couldn't finalize them in time to have on the launch car.

"They will very likely become updates for the early part of the season."

Pushed further, the second-year Team Principal was keen to point out there would be no obstacles towards adding the new parts to the car - and hinted that performance gains would soon diminish.

"In terms of the innovations, I would say it is not that the innovations didn't make it, it is more some development projects didn't make it," he said.

"When you embark on development projects, you want to obviously target them to be delivered as soon as possible, but the way we have designed the car, there are no restrictions for some of them to be available - it is just a matter of the time required for projects to mature and be ready.

"Concerning the development of the cars, I think that this year we will see that adding lap-time will start to have some diminishing returns for the first time with these regulations.

"For two years, we have seen aerodynamic progress be quite steep, but now I would anticipate that towards the end of the season, it will become harder for designers to be able to keep a very steep development rate.

"This is why I said that we can be competitive if we are able to keep the development rate that we have experienced over the last 12 months."

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