McLaren has already expressed concerns ahead of the 2023 season, with team principal Andrea Stella explaining that improvements are still necessary.
After a relatively underwhelming campaign last year, pressure is mounting for the British squad to close the gap to the top three teams.
Despite Lando Norris claiming an unlikely podium at Imola, the last twelve months have only highlighted the journey ahead for McLaren to fight for wins.
Andrea Stella warned at the beginning of the year that McLaren is unlikely to start the year strongly, and this sentiment seems to remain within the squad.
Zak Brown has also been cautious in his predictions for 2023, often discussing the importance of obtaining the necessary infrastructure and facilities before pushing for the front.
As quoted by The Race, the Italian engineer discussed some of the positives and – perhaps most notably – negatives from the team’s winter development of the MCL60:
“We identified multiple areas of opportunities. The good news is that pretty much all of them have been addressed…
“But there’s some more areas, for instance, in terms of interaction with the tyres. There’s some work that we needed to do, and this was done over the winter.
“There are some other areas of the car that will be improved by developments in the early stages of the season.
“So, we are happy. Not entirely happy for the [MCL60] launch car, but optimistic that we should take a good step soon.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with team personnel controlling the excitement and anticipation that can often dominate during the winter break.
However, the concerns raised by Andrea Stella are seemingly a genuine assessment of pressing weaknesses at McLaren going into 2023.
Whilst the British squad can hope for a late-season charge and recovery, these quotes are far from encouraging, especially with the first round in Bahrain just weeks away.
The incoming wind tunnel facility will certainly be a positive, but it seems unrealistic that McLaren can bridge the gap to F1’s top three teams if they lose more ground.
McLaren is already a few steps behind the top three, and there is also a real danger that Aston Martin and Alpine could make significant steps forward over the winter.
It would be premature to ring the panic alarm in Woking, but there seems to be a clear nervousness surrounding the team.