McLaren’s next upgrade package for its 2023 Formula 1 car is such an extensive overhaul that it will be introduced over three grands prix before the summer break.
The MCL60 is set for its second big round of updates of the year and this one is what was previously compared to being a B-spec version of the car.
Though not a B-spec by F1’s conventional definition – as it will retain the same chassis – this is said to be a big departure from the car we have seen so far.
McLaren revised the floor significantly, along with other changes, at the end of April with its first upgrade package for the Azerbaijan GP that was the result of work conducted over the winter.
However, this next new package, which will be rolled out over the course of the races in Austria, Britain and Hungary during July, is the first product of the revised technical department that was put in place by team principal Andrea Stella in April.
Stella said that the redesign, which he called a “major overhaul”, influences “pretty much every single aerodynamic part”.
“Relatively soon at the start of the season, we realised that the car needed a fundamental redesign,” said Stella.
“That’s why the upgrades will be spread over the course of a few races.
“It will be noticeable. We had to redesign even some parts under the bodywork. That’s also why it took some time to be in condition to deliver these upgrades.
“I would say it’s pretty much the entire car.”
After Stella took charge of the team in December, he was given the freedom to make whatever structural changes he deemed appropriate – and committed to major technical upheaval early in the season, ousting technical director James Key and replacing him with a three-person technical executive team.
It was part of a recognition that while McLaren has been waiting for major infrastructure changes (primarily a new windtunnel and simulator) to come online, it should have been doing a better job with the facilities it had.
The upgrade package that will start arriving in Austria needs to have a big impact for McLaren to save its season and achieve its goal of ending the year as the fourth-best team.
So far it is a marginal top-10 contender and has scored only 17 points, its worst return after seven races since the final year of its disastrous three seasons with Honda.
Things may get worse before they get better too, as Stella has warned this weekend’s Canadian GP could be tricky for McLaren’s current car.
“In terms of upgrades here, we only have a rear wing, which is the version that is most suitable for the level of drag that you adopt at this track,” he said.
“Most of the upgrades we will see over the course of the following events.
“We definitely prefer the characteristics of Barcelona because the car is strong in high-speed corners.
“Here we have no high-speed corners and quite a lot of low speed traction.
“It could be a bit of a struggle. We would certainly welcome some [wet] weather!”