Andrea Stella downplays McLaren upturn in pace at Suzuka and Qatar

Andrea Stella discussed where McLaren are at in the pecking order

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McLaren boss Andrea Stella has suggested that the team’s upsurge in form is track-specific and that they are not the second-fastest outfit in general in Formula 1.

Stella has orchestrated a successful 2023 Formula 1 campaign for the Woking outfit, who at one stage was struggling to get out of Q1 at the start of the year.

They took double podiums behind Max Verstappen at the 2023 Japanese and Qatar Grand Prix, underlining their impressive development.

“I would not say so,” Stella told the press when asked if McLaren had the second fastest car. “Because in Suzuka, given the track characteristics, I think we were fairly second quickest team, but we were not in so in Singapore.

“We know we have work to do in tracks that have low-speed corners, with bumps, and very demanding traction. So definitely we have some more work to do to become the second best team at all tracks.”

The McLaren MCL60 is strong in the medium and high-speed tracks, demonstrating excellent corner speeds but still struggles at low-speed circuits.

The examples Stella used, the Japanese GP and Singapore GP, highlights the point. In Singapore, McLaren were the third-fastest car behind Ferrari and Mercedes.

Qatar GP 2023 winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull and third placed Lando Norris of McLaren | Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

But in Japan they were second-fastest. If Lando Norris didn’t lose several seconds behind a slow Sergio Perez as a virtual safety car ended, he would have finished 10 seconds behind Max Verstappen. Across the race, it works out at approximately a deficit of 0.188 seconds per lap.

Amidst their contrasting form in consecutive races, Stella deflected suggestions that the team can push on to catch Aston Martin or Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I’ve said already, I don’t look how far we can go, I just look at ‘What do we have to do now to get as far as possible?'” Stella added.

“So myself and all the team are all focused on improving the car, getting the most out of it every weekend, being reliable, operating trackside as well as we can and then we’ll see in Abu Dhabi at the final classification.”

Stella echoes Williams F1 Andretti sentiment

James Vowles doesn’t want Andretti to join the grid, at least not yet. He drew attention to the losses his team made over the last year and how an 11th team could further harm, what he thinks, is half of the grid.

He further added that if a future team is to join then it must happen when the each team is stable and profitable and Stella shared the notion that the health of the sport is the priority, not two more grid spots.

“Well, our viewpoint is coherent with what has been said so far on this matter,” said Stella. “If the entry of an 11th team is adding to the sport, then we see this positively.

Checking whether this is adding is the duty of the FIA and F1, and at the moment, we just trust the work that these institutions are doing.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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