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Why McLaren's development is 18 months behind schedule

With McLaren having slipped back slightly in 2022, James Key says the pandemic threw the team's development programme for a loop.

Norris Ricciardo
To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren Technical Director James Key says the pandemic has put his team 18 months behind their development curve.

Key and Team Principal Andreas Seidl joined McLaren at the beginning of 2019 as the team embarked on a restructuring after an underwhelming few years that included an ill-fated engine partnership with Honda.

McLaren's fortunes gradually improved from 2018 onwards, as the team's points tally increased year-on-year, ultimately scoring their first Grand Prix win since 2012 with Daniel Ricciardo's victory in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

But the team slipped back in 2022, scoring only 159 points to 275 in 2021, and falling behind Alpine in the final Constructors' Championship, and Key lamented that the onset of the pandemic had affected McLaren's development plans.

Pandemic forced expansions to stop

"I think the race team are doing a good job, but we're not there yet," Key told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"In 2019, Andreas and I arrived, we said immediately we've got some infrastructure to put in here, because we're out of date.

"We had an expansion plan for some of the key areas, and then the pandemic hit the world and all of that came to a stop, so we haven't reaped the rewards of any of those infrastructure investments yet, they're still happening, they're 18 months behind, and the expansion plan had to stop.

"We're rejigging that now, once we're in the cost cap, and we're recruiting quite heavily in the key performance areas. Plans like that, which were kind of long-term but made very early, are well behind schedule, so we're still waiting for them."

Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com in August, Seidl said McLaren were in the process of building a new wind tunnel set to be completed in mid-2023, meaning the first complete car to be developed using the facility will be McLaren's 2025 challenger.

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