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McLaren play down impact of much-vaunted Baku upgrade package

Andrea Stella has played down the potential impact of McLaren's much-hyped upgrade package.

Norris Bahrain GP
To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren Formula 1 Team Principal Andrea Stella has lowered expectations over the performance gains expected from their Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix upgrade package.

The Woking squad have had a slow start to the 2023 season, and are currently pointless after the first two races having hit myriad problems in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

It was announced on Thursday 23rd March that Technical Director James Key had left the team, to be replaced by a new three-headed structure, including former Ferrari engineer David Sanchez.

The team a new development path late on with the MCL60 concept, with the floor expected to be the focus in the much-anticipated package, set to be introduced in Baku at the end of April.

Stella however played down the expected impact of it when questioned during the Saudi GP weekend - before the news broke about Key's departure.

Stella plays down McLaren upgrade

"When it comes to the Baku upgrade, we do see numbers which are promising," Stella explained to media including RacingNews365 in Jeddah.

"Hopefully from sixth [fastest], it will allow us to be fifth, but it is not enough to achieve our objective for the season, which is to become a top four car.

"This will require the Baku upgrade and we require another couple of upgrades following Baku, which we are working on."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

What the problem is at McLaren

The main issue with the MCL60 is the aerodynamics, with McLaren even down-playing expectations at the launch before the car even hit the track.

Stella explained in further detail just what the issues plaguing the machine are.

"In terms of weaknesses of the car, we talk about aerodynamic efficiency, [and this does] not mean necessarily that the car is draggy," he said.

"Simply the ratio between downforce and drag is not as high as we would like. That is the main weakness."

In Saudi, rookie Oscar Piastri was able to make Q3 for the first time, lining up eighth with the smooth nature of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit helping the team.

"In a way, the reason why we are more competitive here [than in Bahrain] is associated with the fact that the tarmac is very, very grippy.

"You rely less on aerodynamic load and have more grip coming from the tyres.

"These conditions kind of hide a little bit the underlying deficit from an aerodynamic point of view."


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