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Brown sets clear McLaren target for start of 2024 as he says team are ‘feeling good about development’

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the team “learned a lot” from their early-season struggles in 2023 and should kick off the new campaign “much stronger” as a result.

McLaren failed to score a point at last year’s opening two races amid a disappointing start to life for the MCL60, prompting a technical reshuffle from team boss Andrea Stella that saw designer James Key depart.

END OF YEAR REPORT: McLaren enjoyed an incredible in-season turnaround and have high hopes for 2024

As the races ticked by, McLaren steadily worked through their problems before leaping up the order with a mid-season upgrade package – giving Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri the chance to fight for podium finishes.

Having ended the year with seven podiums from eight Grands Prix, including five P2 results, Brown is confident that the Woking squad can continue their upward trajectory and this time hit the ground running.

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Brown and McLaren enjoyed plenty of success in the second half of 2023

“We hope to start the season kind of where we finished off,” Brown told Sky Sports, with McLaren overhauling Aston Martin for fourth place in the constructors’ standings late in the year.

“It’ll be interesting to see where everybody starts [in 2024] but we’re feeling good about our development. I think we learned a lot [from 2023] so I anticipate a much stronger start to ’24 than we had in ’23.”

READ MORE: Brown insists it will take McLaren until 2025 to ‘maximise everything’ after new hires and wind tunnel investment

Brown also has complete faith in McLaren’s two drivers, with Norris continuing to impress in his fifth season at the team and Piastri catching the eye thanks to a stellar rookie campaign.

“It’s great to have the driver line-up that we have,” added Brown. “We look at what we need to be a world championship team again, you’ve got to have two great drivers, and I think we’re comfortable we can tick that box.”

McLaren Origins: The story of the Formula 1 team

As for the general level of competitiveness in F1, Brown admitted it is up to everyone else to find a way of reeling in Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, as he talked up the close racing behind the Dutchman in 2023.

“It’s weird, on Max’s level, there’s never been a less competitive season,” he commented, with Verstappen winning 19 out of 22 races. “Behind Max, it’s never been a more competitive season.

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“The grid was unbelievably close, we had five teams with [eight] or more podiums, which is a record. So, one car that is uncompetitive with the rest of the field, and the rest of the field is unbelievably competitive.”

McLaren last won the F1 constructors’ title in 1998, with Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard representing the team, while Lewis Hamilton is their most recent drivers’ champion, having taken the crown in 2008.

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