McLaren confident about F1 2024 but worrying Red Bull theory emerges

McLaren are wary about the prospect of Red Bull being an even more potent force in F1 during the upcoming 2024 season.
(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 and Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 battle for position at the start of
(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 and Lando Norris (GBR)…

Red Bull blew away the opposition during a record-breaking 2023 campaign in which the team won 21 of the 22 races and eased to both world championships for a second consecutive year. 

After a terrible start to the campaign, an incredible mid-season resurgence enabled McLaren to end the year as Red Bull’s nearest and most consistent challengers with what was at times the second-fastest car on the grid behind the dominant RB19. 

However, Red Bull turned off their 2023 car development early to switch focus onto 2024, leaving McLaren concerned about the possibility F1 witnessing an “unpleasant surprise”. 

“Clearly we want to continue to close the gap,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown said at the launch of the team’s 2024 livery. “We finished up last year as the second or third quickest team, depending on what circuit you were at. 

“Car development has been strong, but Red Bull certainly seems like they didn’t develop last year to the level they could if they wanted to. So that could be an unpleasant surprise for all of us.” 

McLaren confident about F1 2024 but worrying Red Bull theory emerges

While McLaren are confident they can maintain the strong progress they made last year with their new MCL38 car, they expect the same to be true for reigning champions Red Bull. 

"Competitiveness on track depends on what the opposition has done,” McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said. 

"When we think specifically about Red Bull, there is one element that puts everyone in doubt as to what is going to happen in 2024, and it's the fact that they have not developed their car very much.

"So the question is have they cashed in, accumulated developments, and they will capitalise on to next year's car? This is my theory.

"I can't think that Red Bull were not in condition to develop their car. They might have decided not to deliver upgrades, but certainly this may mean their [development] gradient kept going.”

Stella added: “I would say Red Bull should be extremely competitive and we will see where we are, and we will see what kind of challenge we will be able to set on track. 

“But, for me, for us, it's important that we see we are doing a good job out of our own performance development. We are confident that, if we keep doing this, over time, we have an opportunity to close the gap. So that's our vision for the future.”

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