McLaren CEO Zak Brown has conceded his team’s 2023 Formula 1 car “still has too much drag” despite the introduction of a significantly modified floor pan.
McLaren presented a new package in Baku which represented the car it felt it should have started the season with, adhering to a different floor philosophy which attempted to address the lack of efficiency of the MCL35 launch specification of the Woking team.
But while the new floorboard gave a little boost once it was put on the car at last week’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the car’s continued inefficiency was still evident, with Lando Norris unable to overtake Nico Hulkenberg de Haas for large parts of the race due to a lack of top speed, before finishing ninth.
“Well, we still have too much drag, which is pretty obvious, and so we need to create drag-free downforce,” said Brown, whose team is fifth in the standings, after taking advantage of the misfortune of its rival Alpine.
“We brought new elements to the car. We knew, as we said at the start of the year, that the start was going to be a bit slow, so it was good to see that the team made a great job with the upgrades.
“More to come but that’s what the other nine teams are doing.”
Baku’s new sprint format with a single 60-minute practice session did not help teams make improvements at the street circuit.
Therefore, Brown believes his team will be able to extract more potential from their new package with more free practice at the regular-format Miami Grand Prix this weekend.
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images
“I think we still have to sort it out, Baku being a sprint race, it takes a few sessions to figure out exactly what’s going on and fine-tune it,” he added.
“So I think we’re still going to learn over this weekend.”
The Baku upgrade was the first of several planned upgrades, with a “sort of larger B spec arriving” before the summer break.
The development plan is led by McLaren’s new technology structure implemented by team boss Andrea Stella, giving three technical chiefs instead of a single technical director while poaching personnel from rival teams.
Brown believes the team’s upcoming improvements will already benefit from the personnel overhaul.
“What we’ve done is optimize the organization and give real clarity to the roles,” Brown explained.
“What [Andrea] identified was that we weren’t structurally optimized, so we defined what the optimal structure would look like, and then you filled in this flowchart.
“There were a few changes that we then wanted to make to optimize the new structure and so there is a lot of energy and clarity inside the MTC.
“I think now the upgrades, which will start to arrive, are starting to show the work of the new structure we have in place and hopefully will continue to grow over the year.”
Additional reporting by Matt Kew