McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella insists that it is not only searching for aerodynamic improvements from its 2024 Formula 1 car to catch Red Bull.

Since introducing a sizeable upgrade in Singapore, McLaren has registered five podiums in the past six races to emerge as Red Bull’s most consistent contender.

Despite Oscar Piastri pipping Max Verstappen to victory in the Qatar Sprint race, the Woking-based squad have been unable to land a breakthrough grand prix win.

Lando Norris challenged Verstappen through the opening stages in Brazil, but the Dutchman was eventually able to ease away to comfortably triumph over the McLaren.

That prompted Stella to admit that McLaren’s biggest deficit to Red Bull now stood on the tyre management side as the reigning champions could rely on better degradation.

But amid the team’s progress on its 2024 challenger, Stella asserts McLaren must make progress in areas unrelated to outright downforce to become a match to Red Bull.

“We have set some targets, let’s say, but I can’t say in which area and how,” the Italian revealed to Autosport. “But what I can say is that it’s not only aero.”

When asked to address how much of its tyre degradation concerns could be attributed to the aerodynamics and then the mechanical side, Stella replied: “It’s a combination of both. I can’t say much more than that.” 

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Having already opted to change concepts mid-season, both Ferrari and Mercedes have expressed that they will opt to pursue all-new philosophies with their 2024 car designs.

But with McLaren’s upgrades this year constantly delivering the expected gains from the factory, Stella believes the side is in a strong place heading into next season.

“In fairness, where you are with next year’s car partly depends on where you are this year, because that’s the starting point pretty much for everyone,” he explained.

“But it depends on the gradient of development. This gradient [at McLaren] started in July, pretty much, and there is such a long period which is just about the work you do on next year’s car.”

Having begun the year conceding it had missed development targets with the MCL60, McLaren struggled immensely before launching a heavily revised car in July.

Stella has expanded upon the challenge the team has encountered throughout the campaign with introducing parts that didn’t align with its initial launch-spec concept.

“The car we launched in March, there are some elements that have been developed with continuity, but most of it has been developed in discontinuity,” he said. 

“Especially when it came to the floor, bodywork, rear wing, and to some extent the front wing. 

“We just needed to kind of go into different concepts and start to get them to work. It wasn’t just a linear iterative development of the starting concept of the launch car.”

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