Season Review: McLaren

Published on 3 December 2023 at 20:00

McLaren had a season of constant improvement - starting from rock bottom to challenging for podium finishes and being the second-quickest team behind Red Bull.


The Woking team had been on an upward trajectory in form from 2019 onwards. 2018 was a difficult year, leading to Fernando Alonso retiring from the sport. However, since 2019, gradual improvement has been made in their quest to return to the top.


2019 and 2021saw the Papaya finish fourth in the constructors' championship, whereas 2020 saw them finish in the highest position in a long time in third. 2022 ended in fifth for the Woking team.


Worrying start to the season


The first race in Bahrain was a race that had McLaren fans severely worried with the performance from their team. By the chequered flag, Lando Norris finished two laps down in 17th from race winner Max Verstappen, whereas Oscar Piastri retired from the race.


Saudi Arabia would be the same story as Bahrain. However, a double points finished would be achieved in Piastri's home race in Australia - Norris finishing sixth, with Piastri in eighth.


However, the performance of the car all the way up to the Canadian Grand Prix was simply not good enough, regularly having both drivers finishing outside of the points.


Some believed that the loss of former team principal Andreas Seidl was a big miss, leading to the poor performance from the Woking team. It seemed as though all the slow and steady progress that McLaren had made had all of a sudden washed away.


The poor form prompted lots of changes within the Woking team. Team CEO Zak Brown made lots of new acquisitions - even from top rival teams - to bolster the squad to produce a better car.


Magic from Austria onwards


The Austrian Grand Prix would see McLaren introduce a new upgrade package that they described as a 'B-Spec' car. It was clear that the Woking team had gone down the wrong way with the concept of their car. Therefore, they completely changed their car concept in the hope of big improvement.


Big improvement was exactly what the team saw instantly. Norris would instantly achieve his best result of the season, comfortably finishing fifth in the Austrian Grand Prix.


The race after in Silverstone would see McLaren get their first podium finish of the season through Norris at his home race at the British Grand Prix. The Briton would also achieve another podium finish in Budapest.


However, McLaren would not achieve any podium finishes in the next three European races in the Belgian, Dutch and Italian Grands Prix.


The start of the Asian races would be the start of the MCL60 coming into fruition. Singapore saw Norris almost achieve his first race victory in Formula 1, finishing eight tenths behind race winner Carlos Sainz.


The Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka saw McLaren achieve their first double podium finish of the season - Norris finishing second and Piastri finishing third.


The Qatar Grand Prix also had the Woking team achieving another double podium finish. This time, Piastri finishing in second and Norris finishing in third. That weekend, Piastri also won the sprint race.


The Woking team ended the season fourth in the constructors' championship - a remarkable achievement, considering the poor start they had to the season.


Nathan Hartley

Add comment


There are no comments yet.