Stella sees little improvement in MCL38 until upgrade: ‘You can’t find magic in it’

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Stella sees little improvement in MCL38 until upgrade: 'You can't find magic in it'

McLaren did not get off to a great start in 2023, but managed to make big steps and achieve podiums as the season progressed. The current season started a lot better for the British racing team, but due to the speed of Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, a podium is not yet in sight. With the first major updates of the season, team boss Andrea Stella hopes to change this.

In Australia the team will make some minor changes, but the major upgrades are planned around race six or seven. The team hopes for major improvements in Miami or Imola, but for the Grands Prix they see small steps. “We have some little things we are bringing to Australia and hopefully Japan, but this will be a difference of milliseconds,” the team boss told Motorsport.com. ‘And hopefully we have another big upgrade in the first part of the season. That will be around race six or seven.’

Stella indicates that McLaren still has some margin, but that major steps forward will really have to come with the help of those future upgrades. “We still have some room to understand the car better,” the Italian explains. “In Jeddah we had a different approach in terms of the set-up of the two cars. Here we saw some positive points, but also negative ones.’ They will not gain more than a tenth by optimizing the current package. “You can’t find magic in it,” says the team boss. ‘We know the car well, apart from these small differences between the cars, which we will now investigate. I think it’s really a matter of upgrades or better adaptation to the track.”

In Japan it becomes clear where McLaren stands

Stella expects that the current ranking within Formula 1 will only become truly clear during the Japanese Grand Prix. The Suzuka circuit has a combination of slow and fast corners and also contains a long straight section. Many teams will see where they really stand there and McLaren will also be thoroughly tested. “You could see that everyone behind McLaren in sector one lost their advantage,” the Italian said of the race in Jeddah. “If you have fast, flowing corners where you only have to steer a little, the car responds well.” McLaren’s problem lies in the longer corners. ‘If you have to hold the wheel for a while in long bends when turning in, the car gives up and we lost time there.’

Stella sees a number of competitors performing well here, including the team where he worked with several world champions for years. “Ferrari is very strong here and that is why Charles Leclerc was so competitive in the last sector.” The team boss would like to see improvement in this area. “Another limitation we had was that we still don’t have the top speed we would like. These two points became very clear to us on this track.’

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