McLaren head to Jeddah with possibly worst car in F1 in the MCL60

McLaren head to Jeddah with possibly worst car in F1

McLaren head to Jeddah with possibly worst car in F1 in the MCL60

This weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will reveal if the McLaren MCL60 is the worst car on the grid because in Bahrain it did its drivers, Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri, no favours.

The writing was on the wall already in testing, the MCL60 kept together with pop-rivets and gaffer-tape before the season opener two Sundays ago. To cut the Bahrain long story of woe short: 17th. NORRIS +2 LAPS and 20th. PIASTRI OUT tells the grim story.

Thus Woking must have been a busy hive since that night as they strive to resolve the issues and provide a better package for their drivers for this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

Team Principal Andrea Stella said in the team’s Jeddah preview: “The team head to Saudi with renewed mindset and determination to get back into the points, which was possible in Bahrain without reliability issues.

“There has been a lot of analysis at McLaren and HPP over the past week to ensure problems are resolved. We know we’ve got work to do, but the team in Woking and trackside are fully focused on developments and ready to go again in Saudi.”

For Norris and Piastri it will be a disappointment if the McLaren MCL60 remains problematic and uncompetitive, Lando, in particular, is capable of great stuff as he showed in Bahrain qualifying, but sustaining that level with an ill-handling car for an entire race is nigh impossible.

Norris: We know there is a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be

For now, Norris remains upbeat: “It’s nice to be back at the track in Jeddah. The speed here is great and I love street circuits, so I am looking forward to getting on track. I had a decent result here last year, and Bahrain showed we have some good race pace so a points finish is very much a possibility, we just need to extract as much as we can from the car.

“The team are working tirelessly to learn everything we can from Bahrain and to make changes so that we have a better weekend on track in Saudi. We know there is a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, but I trust the team and know they are doing everything they can for us to be better. Let’s get out there and give it everything.”

Piastri also needs decent kit to live up to the hype he stirred up ahead of his rookie F1 season; Bahrain was forgettable for him, but nevertheless part of a learning curve he is on.

Heading to Jeddah for his second F1 race with McLaren, Piastri said: “Whilst the result last week was obviously disappointing for my first F1 race, I learned a lot and it’s important we all keep our heads held high.”

Piastri: I have full confidence that we’ll get to where we want to be

The 21-year-old added: “I know the team are working extremely hard to turn it around from Bahrain and make the best car possible for Lando and myself. We’ll keep pushing forward as a team and I have full confidence that we’ll get to where we want to be.

“I’m looking forward to going racing at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. I’ve raced here previously in F2 so I have some experience of the track’s speedy nature and I’m excited to get out there in an F1 car. There are some cool features like the fast bends, and it will be my first time on a street track in F1 machinery,” added Piastri.

McLaren finished fifth in last years F1 constructors’ standings, preparing that won’t be an easy feat this season as the grid these days is split into two: Front of the field and midfield, the backmarkers will vary from race to race one could assume.

McLaren’s worst slump in F1, from 2015 through to the end of 2018, was followed y encouraging signs of revival under CEO Zak Brwon with third in the constructors in 2020, in 2021 they were fourth, last year fifth and right now, bottom of the pile in tenth, one race into the new season.

Bahrain was a bad race weekend for McLaren, no matter how it is coated, and no doubt they and their fans hope it was an anomaly, that Jeddah will play into their hands this weekend. If not, they are in some serious trouble, with the MCL60 top candidate for the worst F1 car on the grid in 2023.