McLaren says completely dialling out quirks with its Formula 1 car that made last year’s updated MCL60 tricky for its drivers in qualifying may still take a “few months” to resolve.
While a raft of in-season upgrades delivered an impressive ramping up of McLaren’s form throughout 2023, the team started pondering towards the end of the year whether the changes had also introduced nasty characteristics that made the car less settled on the edge.
This was especially highlighted in the final races of the year when the car’s unpredictable nature prompted Lando Norris to make some high-profile mistakes in qualifying in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Having looked into the matter over the winter, McLaren has suggested that it did discover some traits within its concept that had triggered the issues.
And while it has been able to address some of these with developments for its new MCL38, team principal Andrea Stella has suggested that the squad will not be on top of everything until after the 2024 season has started.
Asked by Motorsport.com about the outcome of the investigations, Stella said: “Yes, we definitely questioned ourselves – whether we had made the car quicker, but somehow slightly more difficult to be exploited when you go to the limit in qualifying.
“We have looked at, first of all, confirming whether this question was fair or if it was just kind of random episodes but not actually correlated from a technical point of view.
“We think that definitely there’s some areas that we could have looked into, and they affect the aerodynamics side.”
However, despite it appearing to be an aero issue, Stella said the fact that ride height plays such a critical role with the current ground effect cars meant there were vehicle dynamics factors at play too.
“On these cars, aerodynamics and ride, they go pretty much hand-in-hand – because you know that you would like to run these cars as low as possible to the ground,” he said. “This is one of the challenges for every team.
“Looking at where the right compromise is from this point of view for instance, just to give you a concrete, real example of where we’ve been looking at, this is an area that deserves some attention.
“There’s some other areas which I wouldn’t disclose just for a matter of protecting our IP, let’s say, but this was one of the priorities of the winter.”
While Stella says that some improvements in this area will likely make their way onto McLaren’s launch car, other bits will follow in due course.
“Some of the benefits may be embedded onto the launch car, but actually some of the projects belong to a workstream that may land trackside with some other developments,” he said.
“Some things require a few months to be addressed, let’s say.”