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Stella points to vital McLaren clues reiterated in Spain

Recent races in Miami and Barcelona have proved useful for the McLaren squad.

McLaren's MCL60 Formula 1 car only has a narrow "pocket" of conditions where it is at its best, according to boss Andrea Stella. The Woking squad have suffered an indifferent start to the 2023 campaign – amid a big technical restructuring, with Red Bull's Rob Marshall joining for next season – and have just 17 points from seven races. However, in Spain, Lando Norris put in a surprise to qualify third fastest, although his race was all but ended following Turn 2 contact with Lewis Hamilton. Stella believes the Barcelona weekend reinforced McLaren's understanding of where the car is strong and weak.

Where McLaren excels

"In reality, the fact that we had a positive result [with Norris in Spanish GP qualifying], kind of confirmed what we already knew," Stella told media, including RacingNews365.com. "There's a pocket of conditions in which the car operates very well in these conditions, which include a cold track, cold ambient [temperatures], high speed corners and a lot of grip from the tyres. "When you have grip on the tyres, you mask balance problems, and this meant Lando and Oscar [Piastri] could be competitive. "This is almost the counter to what we had in Miami, where it was hot, the tyres and tarmac weren't very grippy, balance issues and not many high-speed corners at all. "So we've got more confirmation of what we already knew, rather than new insights [into problems with the car]."

McLaren's downforce problems

Stella also explained just how the MCL60 is creating its downforce and how the car can be in such different operating windows. "When we talk about downforce, it is very dependent on some parameters like front ride height, rear ride height, roll angle or yaw angle," he said. "We should always talk about dynamic maps. Our car delivers good downforce when it is in a straight line and in high-speed, in technical terms, straight-line and high-speed conditions are actually very similar. "When you go into medium or low-speed, the air comes a much wider angle, which is the yaw angle, ride heights are much higher as you are further away from the ground, so the downforce you have is much less not only because of the speed, but because of this altitude. "Our car is very good in terms of downforce when in a straight line and in high-speed, but when it is medium and low-speed, we struggle a little bit."

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