McLaren surge: Big upgrade awaits

Australian Grand Prix 2022

McLaren took a small step forward in Melbourne. But jumping to the front end of the midfield will take some time. Instead of many small upgrades, a big expansion phase should lead to the tipping point. It is not yet clear when that will happen.

Looking at the terraces in Albert Park on Friday (April 8) you can see many orange hats. Of course, McLaren owes its popularity above all to local champion Daniel Ricciardo. After a steady rise in recent years, fans were definitely hoping for a better score when buying their tickets. But for now, McLaren has to bake smaller rolls.


Ricardo’s score is still at zero. Teammate Lando Norris’s seventh place in Jeddah had to be considered a success. The new car far below expectations. “We know what’s wrong. And we already have a plan for how to get back on track. Now we have to see how successful the organization we’ve built here in recent years has been,” says Team Leader Andreas Seidl.


At the same time, the Bavarian asked the fans to be patient. A trend reversal does not come overnight. “In times of budgeting, you have to spend your money wisely. Before you bring in upgrades, you need to be sure that they work.” The development machine has already been put into operation in Woking. It may take some time before you can see results on the car.

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In Melbourne, brake cooling systems are still installed, which were poorly improved initially in Bahrain.

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Little progress in Melbourne

The engineers continued to refrain from replacing the temporary brake-cooling solution on the front axle. The new version should be part of a larger package. However, Seidl did not want to reveal when this would happen. The announced expansion phase will not be a departure from the current core concept. So McLaren will not suddenly appear with side boxes like Ferrari.


In Melbourne, only new wings on the rear wheel carriers, which have been in preparation for some time, were included in the FIA ​​list with technical innovations. They sure weren’t the only ones why things suddenly seemed to be going a little better. After all, both cars made it into the top 10 in practice on Friday – Lando Norris in eighth and Daniel Ricciardo in tenth.


“It was a decent day. We’re in the middle of it,” Ricciardo cautiously concluded. “We were able to take a good step forward in the first part of the second session. I felt comfortable especially with the medium tyre. Didn’t work well with the soft tyre. I couldn’t get everything out of it.”


Lando Norris - Australian Grand Prix 2022

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McLaren in the middle of the field. If there are points, you cannot afford to make any mistakes.

Points are the goal

Lando Norris feared that the progress was mainly due to the characteristics of the track. The McLaren MCL36 still lacks downforce. Thanks to Albert Park’s renovations, you won’t need as much of it as you used to. But papaya racers still lose a lot of time to compete, especially in slower corners.

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“This was definitely our best Friday of the year,” Norris praised his team. “We’ve applied some of the insights we’ve gained from the last races. But the improvement is only in small steps. We are no longer half a second or a second faster. The gap is still big, but at least we’re going in the right direction. I hope we see more progress tomorrow.”


Chief engineer Andrea Stella hopes to stay in the top half of the table on Saturday and Sunday: “In terms of competitiveness, it looks like we’ve taken a small step forward. We have to work hard tonight to cement that position. Then we can reach Q3 in qualifying and hopefully that Fighting for points in the race.”


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