McLaren received a “reality check” regarding the limitations of its 2023 car and where it needs to develop through this season in Miami, says team principal Andrea Stella.
An updated floor for Baku enabled McLaren to take a step forward, with Lando Norris coming home ninth and best-of-the-rest behind the top four teams. But just one weekend later, both McLarens dropped out in Q1 in Miami and never had the pace to challenge for points after Norris’s car sustained floor damage on the opening lap and brake issues hindered Oscar Piastri.
“The main takeaway is that after a decent weekend in Baku from a performance point of view, we had a reality check,” Stella said. “The information we gained (in Miami) helps us understand that some development directions still need to be pursued, like improving the car in off-brakes, off-throttle. At the moment, the car just doesn’t work in this condition.
“At tracks like this, this becomes too much of a limitation. So we take away some important learnings for development. We also had a reliability issue on Oscar’s car. He needed to drive the entire race with a problem on the brake by wire… Oscar was excellent in being able to cope with it. After having locked the tires three or four times, he realized how to adapt the way he was braking to (cope with) this issue.”
Stella says the race also didn’t come to McLaren after Norris was rear-ended by Nyck de Vries — costing him an estimated 0.2-0.3s of downforce — and the gamble to start both drivers on soft tires backfired with a one-stop strategy proving the best move.
“Ultimately, in the race we would have needed a good start. This was actually in place — Lando gained a few positions but then he was hit by de Vries. This meant that from potentially P13 or something, he was again finding himself at the back of the group.
“We would have needed high degradation on tires because we had allocated two hard tires, but actually the degradation wasn’t as high as expected. So one stop was possible for everyone. It was relatively easy. We would have needed some events in the race — a safety car or something — but nothing happened. So the limitations from a performance point of view could not be overcome thanks to some situational elements and we go away with no points.”