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How McLaren Upturned Their Season

Written by Isabel Jane Caporaso, Edited by Janvi Unni

Image Credits: Gongora/NurPhoto-Getty Images

Improvement is everything in Formula One, especially when you start the season with a 17th place and a DNF at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The McLaren F1 Team is a clear example of where hard work, determination and a great team of mechanics can get you in Formula One.

Andrea Stella’s team presented their MCL60 on February 13th 2023. The British team started off their season showing clear signs of struggle with the car, but as of the last 10 Grands Prix they have managed to secure 8 podiums, 1 sprint win and 1 fastest lap.

How was this possible?

The first design of the MCL60 was an evolved concept of the MCL36, a car that led McLaren to end their 2022 season in fifth place for the first time in 3 years. The project was initially created by technical director James Key, who had a specific aim for the car which ultimately was not fulfilled in time for the launch in February 2023.

It’s no secret that the vehicle came across as uncompetitive, with poor aerodynamics and a major tyre degradation struggle. James Key soon departed from the team, but to fulfill Key’s departure, McLaren appointed Peter Prodromou and Neil Houdley as the new developers. The team’s results have changed drastically since then.

We’re all asking ourselves: What changed?

Comparison between the MCL60 and the MCL36; Credit: Samuel Prieto on X

The new development program consisted of a three step approach. The first upgraded package was brought at the Austrian Grand Prix, where the mechanics aimed to improve the general driveability and the airflow of the vehicle, introducing a redesigned floor, slimmer engine cover and new side pods with the addition of new inlet ducts and cooling components.

Although the upgrades were only applied to Lando Norris’s car, the improvements were clear to everyone. In fact, the British driver ended his race in 4th position, whereas his teammate Oscar Piastri ended in 16th position.

The following weekend in Silverstone, both cars presented innovations. The Great Britain Grand Prix upgrades had the purpose of increasing the downforce, through an innovated front wing, new rear winglets, suspension shrouds and lastly a new nose design to compliment the latest front wing.

For the first time in over a year, Lando Norris managed to score a podium, and even sweeter to have come at his home race, finishing in a perfect 2nd place, with his teammate Oscar Piastri also managing a wonderful race ending in 4th position. Since then, McLaren have proved that they are ready to fight for the top 3 in the constructors championship.

The real test came across in Zandvoort on a very different type of race circuit as compared to Silverstone. Here, the team continued in their intent of boosting the downforce without increasing the aerodynamic drag. It was achieved by changing the beam wing, main plane, upper flap and end plate of the rear wing. And once again McLaren proved their strength, ending the race with a 2nd and 5th place.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri; Image Credits: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Thanks to the modifications carried out, the team continued their streak of excellent races, eventually leading to Oscar Piastri’s first win in the Qatar Sprint Race. It’s safe to say that McLaren’s revival isn’t only a consequence of the impeccable mechanical work but it’s also a result of their young, passionate and confident driver line-up who push the car to the limit and are making the team shine after a disappointing 2022 season.

Will McLaren manage to keep this streak going? The papaya fans surely hope so.


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