McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella, whose team is currently enjoying a period of resurgence, is wary of a big step in performance Mercedes might achieve in 2024.
While Red Bull were the the runaway Formula 1 Constructors’ Champions of 2023, their rivals were playing catch up all season but to no avail.
Instead, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren took turns at being the second fastest teams on the grid, while the latter seem to have established themselves in that position for now.
McLaren’s resurgence can be tracked back to their major upgrade package they brought in Austria, and followed that up by another one in Singapore, both packages working straight out of the box.
And while Mercedes have also dropped their slim sidepod concept since Monaco, following a more conventional sidepod design, the W14 has remained temperamental, fast at some races, horrible at others.
With the 2023 F1 season entering its final phase, all teams have switched their focus on their 2024 challengers, and while Stella is satisfied with the progress McLaren are showing on that front, he is wary of a Mercedes comeback next year.
“At the moment, we are encouraged by the development we see on next year’s car,” Stella said. “But, at the same time, I guess it’s the same for everyone because right now some concepts are starting to be quite clear across the paddock.
Mercedes are a threat in 2024
“We don’t know whether we are developing faster than other teams. And above all, we don’t know whether we are developing faster than Red Bull.
“And let’s not forget that Mercedes, I think they realized what they need to work on. And I suspect they’re going to jump back quite strongly.
“There are no factual elements at this stage to say this is the pecking order we’ll see next year. I think things can evolve,” the McLaren boss maintained.
As for his work philosophy at McLaren, the Italian insisted he would rather focus on the process than just set targets.
He stated: “I’m focused on the process. You can have targets, and you can say, these are my two, three milestones from a results point of view.
“But in reality, you don’t work against that. You work just at the fastest, reasonable pace that can be sustained in development. Then we see where we end up. If you go faster, you may start jumping the gun, shortcutting, and finding yourself bringing things trackside, and they don’t work because you haven’t been methodical enough. So that’s how we work,” he explained.
“Looking at the season, if we really want to check against this best expectation, I think we are slightly ahead of where we would have expected to be even in the most optimistic prediction,” a satisfied Stella concluded.
McLaren now gear up for the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, and are targeting a strong result after Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finished second and third at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.