McLaren “need to pick up the pace” in 2023

McLaren are braced for a difficult start to the 2023 F1 season having admitted they are behind their development projections ahead of next week’s opening race.

The team admitted at the launch of its new MCL60 they hadn’t met all their targets and plan to bring an update soon after the start of the season. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said “it’s hard to know until we get going” exactly how competitive they are.

“We know we set some some goals for development which we didn’t hit and we felt it was better to be honest about that,” Brown told media including RaceFans in Bahrain today. “We, like everyone, have a lot of development coming, so we are encouraged [by] what we see around the corner.

“But I think we will be going into the the first race off of our projected targets and it’s hard to really know where that means we’ll be on the grid.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: Pre-season testing day two in pictures

McLaren covered the fewest laps of any team in the opening day of the test on Thursday. The MCL60 spent time in the garage having parts reinforced to guard against failures.

“We had some teething problems yesterday,” Brown admitted. “We had Oscar doing most of the heavy lifting in the morning, getting the car dialled in. Nothing alarming, just the usual testing bugs.

“Today Lando was focussed on longer runs, so we’re still understanding the car and have a lot more testing ahead of us – relatively speaking, another day and a half – and then we’ll get to work on race set-up.”

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The team endured a difficult test in Bahrain last year, when braking problems severely limited how many laps they could complete, compromising their preparations for the new season. Brown said it is “very important” the team has a more productive test this year.

“Last year with our brake issue it stopped the development of some other items we were working on to make sure we fixed the problem. Then we came into Bahrain sub-optimal from a performance standpoint, just to make sure we got through the race.

“I’m very proud about how quickly the team did react because we had about a week to solve a problem. But I think that did hurt us at the start of the year so it’s important that we have a normal test session to start the season.”

McLaren fell to fifth in the constructors championship in 2022. Brown said the team needs to bounce back quickly from their slow start to the season to stand a chance of moving back up.

“We want to be in the top four by the end of the year. Last year was a bit disappointing. Our aspirations are to get back to the front. We know that will take a little bit more time.

“We’ve got all the technology infrastructure either in or going to be pretty much completed this year. So that’s quite exciting, and we have some good developments coming.

“But so does every other single team in Formula 1. So we need do need to pick up the pace.”

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