McLaren upbeat on new 2024 F1 car after significant improvement in three key areas

McLaren launched their car for the 2024 Formula 1 season - The MCL38


McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has admitted the team’s MCL38 car is improved in three areas and will be upgraded further during the first half of 2024, with some developments not ready in time for the season opener.

After revealing the livery of their 2024 car in January, the MCL38 was unveiled at a low-key launch event, followed by a shakedown at a wet Silverstone on Wednesday. However, the new car, which will debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix in early March, will change entirely during the first half of 2024 when overrunning upgrades are finally introduced.

“These areas, rather than being specific, I’ll keep it relatively general, but they effectively have to do with improving the aerodynamic performance, improving the mechanical side and the interaction with the tyres,” explained Stella to selected media outlets, including at McLaren‘s launch.

“So, in all of the three key projects that we had started, we saw that they had potential, but just we couldn’t finalise them in time to have it on the launch car. They will very likely become updates for the early part of the season.

“In terms of the innovations, I would say it’s more it’s not the innovations didn’t make it. I think it’s more some development projects didn’t make it. But when you embark on some development projects, obviously you want to target them to deliver as soon as possible.

McLaren launch MCL38 | McLaren F1 Team

“But there’s full room in the way we have designed the car for this project to land later on to the car, there are no restrictions, let’s say from a layout point of view, for some of them to become available, so it’s just a matter of the time required for projects to mature and then be ready to be delivered. 

“But now, I would anticipate that towards the end of the season, it will become harder for designers to be able to keep a very steep development rate. This is why I said before that we can be competitive if we are able to keep the development rate that we have experienced over the last 12 months.”

“In terms of improvement, the car is improved. We had three major objectives. One was to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The second one was to improve mechanical grip. And the third one was to improve the interaction with the tyres.

“I wouldn’t want to give any proportion. But I would say that we’ve been able to improve on all three areas. Even though, like I said, we see that there’s potential for further improvements in each of these three areas.”

New wind tunnel helping the MCL38 development

As well as looking strikingly different from its predecessors, McLaren’s MCL38 will be the first car to benefit from being developed at the team’s new state-of-the-art wind tunnel.

McLaren had previously used Toyota‘s old wind tunnel in Cologne, Germany, but to simplify the aerodynamic process, team principal Andreas Seidl recommended upgrading the team’s wind tunnel.

In October 2023, four years after renovations began, the new wind tunnel was finally opened, with drivers Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris present at the unveiling. McLaren has also invested in new equipment in the machine shop designed to make the manufacturing process of new car parts more efficient. 

McLaren launch MCL38 | McLaren F1 Team

“The MCL38 is the first car that could benefit from the delivery of some of the infrastructure projects that we talked about quite a bit last year,” explained Stella.

“It’s a car that’s been entirely developed in the new wind tunnel and is a car that, from carbon parts point of view, is entirely produced in the new McLaren racing composite facility.

“And even in terms of the metal parts, we are in the process of evolving the machine shop so even in this case, the metal parts they do come from some of the new machines in the machine shop.

“We can see that this has made the manufacturing process overall more efficient, which is a benefit from a timeline point of view because you can make parts faster and also you have to spend less money in outsourcing the manufacturing, which normally is more expensive.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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