Stella praised for McLaren turnaround: ‘All doubts have massively evaporated'

Andrea Stella has been praised for his role in leading McLaren’s stunning F1 turnaround during the 2023 season. 
(L to R): Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren celebrates his third position with Andrea Stella (ITA) McLaren Team Principal and
(L to R): Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren celebrates his third position with…

McLaren started the year on the back foot with one of the slowest cars on the grid before the introduction of an upgrade package in Austria in July transformed the team’s fortunes during the second half of the campaign. 

The British squad emerged as Red Bull’s nearest challengers as they stormed back into contention, with Lando Norris going on to secure seven podiums, while rookie teammate Oscar Piastri claimed a maiden win in the Qatar sprint race. 

A revitalised McLaren sealed fourth place in the constructors’ championship, beating Aston Martin, who had started 2023 as the second-fastest team before falling away. 

And F1 commentator David Croft believes Stella’s patient approach was a key factor behind McLaren’s incredible U-Turn in competitiveness. 

Speaking on the Sky F1 Podcast, Croft said: “I do remember this time last year, when he was announced as team principal, and Ted [Kravitz, Sky’s F1 pitlane reporter] and I might have had a conversation that went along the lines of ‘what? Really? Interesting. Slightly left-field. Not sure. Was no-one else about and they just had to promote someone from within?’

“But I have to say that all the doubts have massively evaporated. For a man whose biggest strength is patience. Patience with his team and with his drivers and patience he then expects of those above him. If he gets that patience he then delivers for the team. 

“He is a brilliant example of how patience is a word that we should all use in our daily walk of life and certainly in our career, because it went so badly for McLaren at the start of the season. They were slower than a slow thing. 

But behind the scenes they had identified what was going to happen and they were working to put it right. They didn’t just rush things to the track. They brought upgrades when they were ready and when the team understood the upgrades. When they knew how it was going to be. And it was an instant impact.”

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren

Kravitz echoed Croft’s view, adding: "When he was racing director of McLaren, all he needed to know were the 300 people or so in his group. When he took over as team principal, he needed to get to know the other 800 people that make up McLaren.

"He is not an extravagant, flamboyant figure. He has done that with respect and admiration and kept everybody together at what could have been, after the early season disappointments from McLaren, a very fractious and potentially spiralling time.

"But he's done a great job on the HR and that McLaren for large parts of the season was the second fastest car in Formula 1, arguably the only car that worried Max Verstappen in the hands of maybe Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri.

"Technical, once they got going, is very good. Leadership, I have actually got Stella a little bit further down because it was his first year and he is a quiet man, softly spoken.

"Media and sponsorship, I've got Stella second, because while he's very good with the media, he will always answer questions, there is that Zak Brown above him who deals with the sponsorship, so it is a slightly sort of split team principal."

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