McLaren Sets Sights on Early Upgrades in Critical Areas for 2024

McLaren plans additional improvements in three crucial areas to overcome last year's challenges with its newly introduced MCL38.


By Ben Bush
Updated on March 12, 2024

2024 McLaren MCL38 side-rear Photo McLaren

McLaren unveiled its 2024 competitor, the MCL38, through an online launch on Wednesday morning, followed by a filming day at Silverstone under rainy conditions.

Last year’s model launch, the MCL60, came with subdued expectations following team principal Andrea Stella’s acknowledgement of missed targets at launch and the anticipation of a comprehensive mid-season redesign.

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This overhaul transformed McLaren into the season’s most progressive team, propelling them to fourth in the standings. The MCL38 represents an evolutionary step to enhance the car’s aerodynamic efficiency, mechanical grip in low-speed turns, and interaction with the tyres—critical weaknesses.

Stella notes progress in these dimensions but indicates more enhancements are on the horizon, as some initiatives were not ready for the car’s Bahrain debut.

“We had three major objectives,” Stella explained. “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 in all these three areas, even though we see that there’s potential for further improvements in each of these three areas.

“There were a few projects that we had started, that had potential, but just we couldn’t finalise them in time to have it on the launch car, so they will very likely become updates for the early part of the season.”

In response to questions about whether McLaren was off track with its schedule and if the MCL38 could expect significant performance enhancements similar to its successful predecessor, Stella clarified, “I would say it’s not that 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, but there’s full room in the way we have designed the car for these projects to land later onto the car.

“There are no restrictions from a layout point of view when some of them become available. So, it’s just a matter of the time required for projects to mature, and then be ready to be delivered.”

Since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, McLaren’s remarkable progress resulted in Lando Norris achieving seven podium finishes and Oscar Piastri securing two, marking one of the most formidable mid-season turnarounds by a team to date.

Stella remains optimistic that the Woking-based team can maintain this upward trajectory in 2024, aiming to consistently introduce updates until they either exhaust their creative solutions or reach their budget limit.

“Once we put the car on the ground, we will see whether we can confirm that from a development point of view, we had a step which hopefully keeps the trajectory that we started last year in Austria and consolidated in Singapore.

“There is a budget cap and therefore you should carefully plan your upgrades, because it could be that you become budget-limited rather than development-limited.

“We will push as much as possible in development and then once parts or projects are mature, we will trigger the button and we will deliver these parts trackside and then at some stage, we will see if we become budget-limited or ideas and development limited.”

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Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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