RACE DEBRIEF

    McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the team won’t feel the full effects of their new hires and investment into their wind tunnel until 2025.

    The 2023 campaign felt like a significant step forward for McLaren as their on-track performance was elevated thanks to a mid-season upgrade introduced at the Austrian Grand Prix, and following a slow start to the year. That uptick in form helped them seal P4 in the constructor’s championship, and there are high hopes for 2024 as a result.

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    But the changes at McLaren have also encompassed some key hires and restructuring behind the scenes, with the creation of a Formula 1 Technical Executive Team reporting directly to Team Principal Andrea Stella one of the key moves.

    That team includes Peter Prodromou, who moved into the role of Technical Director, Aerodynamics, while David Sanchez is soon to return to McLaren as Technical Director, Car Concept and Performance, after a decade at Ferrari. He is due to start his role on January 1, 2024.

    Winner Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel (R) celebrates on the podium with Ferrari
    David Sanchez (pictured here alongside winner Sebastian Vettel at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix) will soon be returning to McLaren

    Also joining the team that day is former Red Bull Chief Engineering Officer Rob Marshall, who takes on the Technical Director, Engineering & Design, role after 17 years with the Milton Keynes-based outfit. On top of all that, McLaren also recently opened their new wind tunnel, having previously rented Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne.

    Now that the papaya squad have all these tools and personnel at their disposal, it’s a question of time before the results come to fruition, as Brown mentioned when speaking at the team boss press conference in Las Vegas.

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    “We have everything we need but we need a little bit more time,” he said. “The upgrades were not done with some of our latest technology. We’re now in our wind tunnel, we have our new simulator, our new manufacturing unit, so that’s quite exciting for us because we haven’t yet benefitted from those.

    “We’ve got great people back at McLaren but we do have a couple of big hires that start in early January that I think will be additive – but, of course, our 2024 car is already started.

    “So, I think we’ll have everything in place come January but not everything… ‘24’s already started, so I think it’ll be ’25 before we’ve fully maximised everything.”

    SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 07: Rob Marshall, Chief Engineering Officer of Red Bull Racing, looks on in
    Rob Marshall will be joining McLaren in the new year

    While there is plenty of positive change at McLaren, there are high hopes that their upward trajectory shown in 2023 can translate into 2024 – and maybe a more consistent challenge with Red Bull.

    But Brown has also singled out Stella for individual praise throughout the process and hailed the influence of the Italian during his first year in the job.

    “Andrea has done a fantastic job – he’s a tremendous leader,” Brown said. “He’s a great communicator, he empowers the team, he listens, he gives great direction – I can’t say enough great things about him.”

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