New McLaren boss Andrea Stella is expecting Ferrari to have a strong start to 2023, having stated that the Italian team are said to be "very happy" with their new car.
Stella – who previously worked as an engineer for the Scuderia – was appointed as Team Principal at McLaren earlier in December following the departure of Andreas Seidl to the role of CEO at Sauber.
There have also been changes at Ferrari, with Mattia Binotto announcing his resignation in late November. It was then confirmed in the weeks that followed that Fred Vasseur will become the Italian outfit's Team Principal and General Manager as of 9 January.
According to Stella, the Maranello-based team are feeling positive about their 2023 challenger.
Stella predicts teams to beat in 2023
"I know that at Ferrari they are very happy with the new car, and so they will definitely have a competitive start," Stella told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Stella expects that the top three teams will remain ahead of the pack into the new campaign, stating: "The teams to beat again in the next F1 season are Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes, who are currently competing in a different category to us."
However, he anticipates that Mercedes will make a step forward following a difficult 2022 for the Silver Arrows, adding that he believes there will be a "very strong reaction" from them.
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Why McLaren expect a 'difficult start'
As for McLaren, the Woking-based outfit slipped back from P4 in the 2021 Constructors' Championship to P5 in 2022, and Stella does not expect the team to have an easy start to the new season.
"For us at McLaren, I still expect a difficult start, but I am optimistic for the second half of the season," he commented.
"The most important goal is to make a fast car."
Stella hopes that the squad can make up time to their rivals.
"We need to make up a second, a second and a half on the others," he continued.
"The others will also continue to grow and so we are called upon to grow even faster.
"We still have to remain realistic, aware that we have structural limitations, but we have a financially healthy team and this will allow us to work to try to get closer to the top teams."
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