In 2023, McLaren finished 4th in the Constructors’ Championship after a difficult start to the season, but constant updates to their car allowed them to compete for the podium in the second half of the season, and they are now seen as a potential threat to Red Bull in 2024.
‣ In 2023, McLaren finished 4th in the Constructors’ Championship, a significant improvement after a difficult start to the season.
‣ McLaren’s initial car, the MCL60, had several issues including slow speed in corners, lack of downforce, and high drag. The team decided to develop a “B” version of the car to address these problems.
‣ The “B” version of the car, introduced mid-season, brought significant improvements in terms of downforce and efficiency, leading to better performance in high-speed corners and sections.
‣ Despite the improvements, McLaren still needs to work on the drivability of their car, its aerodynamic efficiency, and performance in slow-speed corners to challenge Red Bull in 2024.
McLaren’s 2023 season was a rollercoaster. They finished 4th in the Constructors’ Championship. A feat that seemed far-fetched after a rocky start. Andrea Stella and Zak Brown, the team’s leaders, did an exceptional job. They kept improving their car, fighting for the podium in the latter half of the season. They even outperformed Red Bull in several races. So, what’s in store for 2024? Could they pose a threat to Red Bull?
The season didn’t start well for the British team. The first few races were tough, with no points scored in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The MCL60, their car, had its fair share of problems. It was slow in slow-speed corners, lacked downforce, and had high drag. This meant they were at a disadvantage in the straights.
They knew these issues couldn’t be fixed overnight. So, they embarked on a year-long development journey. They realized they’d taken a wrong turn and decided to start the 2023 calendar with the “slow” car. Meanwhile, a “B” version was being developed back at the factory.
The first upgrade on the MCL60 was introduced in Baku. It involved changes to the floor design and the beam wing. These changes were minor, but they helped. Norris managed to get P9 in Baku, and both drivers scored 3 points in Monaco, thanks to some rain.
The “B” version of the car made its debut in Austria, on Norris’ car, and then at Silverstone on both cars. The changes were significant. They affected the sidepod area, floor, and front wing. The sidepods now had a completely different design, similar to Aston Martin’s style. The floor edge was shorter than the Baku version, with a very upward profile and vortex generators present. The front wing also saw changes in the points where the metal supports were placed between the wings.
These changes had a significant impact. The MCL60 gained a lot of performance in terms of downforce generated by the Venturi channels. This, along with its ability to put a lot of heat into the tyres, allowed Piastri and Norris to be very quick in all high-speed corners and sections. They managed to score 98 points from Austria until Singapore, with 2 podiums by Norris. This was a massive improvement from where they were in Bahrain.
The team decided to bring another big package to Singapore. The changes aimed to reduce drag and improve performance in slow-speed corners. The rear wing had a cut in the endplate transition, with a metallic support on the top. This was to ensure wing stability in DRS opening and closing phases. The floor edge was inspired by Red Bull, running at the full floor edge length. The cooling inlet was narrowed to reduce drag, without compromising the cooling of the radiating masses and the vital organs of the Power Unit.
These changes allowed McLaren to gain further ground. Norris was able to fight for the victory with Sainz in Singapore. The team managed to score a double podium both in Japan and in Qatar.
So, will they challenge Red Bull in 2024? With the progress shown in 2023, McLaren is aiming to do just that. But they still have work to do. They need to improve the drivability of their car, make it more aero-efficient, and improve slow-speed corners performance. With the recent addition of David Sanchez and Rob Marshall to the team, McLaren has the knowledge, structures, and drivers to fight with Red Bull and Verstappen for the World Championship.