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McLaren downbeat over F1 prospects in China

McLaren currently sit third in the standings following a strong start to the season - however team boss Andrea Stella thinks the upcoming round in China could be a struggle for his squad.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has revealed he is expecting the Shanghai International Circuit to pose his team its biggest challenge so far this year.

The Chinese Grand Prix returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019 this weekend.

McLaren currently sits third in the constructors’ championship, with its best result coming at the Australian Grand Prix through a podium finish for Lando Norris.

However, its MCL38 car still possesses limitations, which Stella suggested will be exposed this weekend.

"I have to say that of these first part of the season, China is the track that worries me the most from a competitiveness point of view," Stella acknowledged.

"You have so much low-speed, hairpins. Even in corner two, corner three, you spend so long in long corners.

"And I think it's been a theme I've been repeating. So far, we haven't been able to improve the car enough in these low-speed, medium-speed long corners.

"So from a competitive competitiveness point of view, I would expect a more difficult situation than here in Suzuka, Australia and the first part of the season.”

Sprint event opportunities

Stella also voiced concern over tyre graining having an impact this weekend, as it was an issue in the past around the circuit.

This could be further amplified by the sprint format being in play - however Stella acknowledged that the lack of practice and data for rivals could also benefit McLaren.

“Definitely it's going to be a challenging event, from several points of view [like] what tarmac situation will we find?

"At the same time, let's not forget that China was one of the most severe tracks for graining. So how will the tyres be able to cope with this?

“There won’t be much practice to realise where we are from a graining point of view.

“It’s also a tricky track in terms of balance between some very high-speed corners, like entering corner one, and then many low-speed sections.

"Seeing it in isolation, it gives a headache. But once you see it from a competitive point of view, I think you need to think: 'If I do not do a perfect job, but a little bit better job than others, then this could be a big opportunity."

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