lando-norris-mclaren-pit-stop-bahrain 2023 f1

McLaren: We have potential to out-develop competitors

lando-norris-mclaren-pit-stop-bahrain 2023 f1

McLaren will seek inspiration from past comebacks after leaving the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix season-opener without a point and last in the constructors’ standings.

Sunday’s race at Sakhir was the second year in a row that McLaren had drawn a blank in the first round and the next couple of races could also be tough with the team recognising they had missed some pre-season targets.

New McLaren team principal Andrea Stella told reporters the main problem was aerodynamic downforce.

He said the McLaren would evolve race by race with the first major upgrade likely in time for race four, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the end of April: “We want to be able to do what McLaren was able to do in 2009, I remember they recovered a lot of performance in 2012 as well.

“I think we have the potential to out-develop competitors. Hopefully we can add 2023 to this list of special years,” added the Italian.

A much tighter midfield won’t help McLaren’s recovery plan

Piastri self-critical after Bahrain F1 qualifying - Speedcafe

In 2009, Jenson Button and Brawn GP won six of the first seven races while McLaren and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton were far from the podium, but he was a winner again by Hungary in July and he also won in Singapore that year as McLaren finished third overall.

Lando Norris was 17th and last on Sunday, having to pit every 10 laps due to a pneumatic pressure leak, while Australian rookie teammate Oscar Piastri was the season’s first retirement.

Norris commented after qualifying that the midfield had become tighter and McLaren were now fighting against the likes of Williams, Haas and Alfa Romeo: “We’ve seen how big of a step Aston have taken from one year to another. We clearly saw how big a step Ferrari took in 2021 to 2022.

“Both of those (steps) were in the off-season so that’s maybe more potential to do such a big change (then) but there’s no reason why 50% or 75% of that can’t be done through the season,” explained Norris. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)