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F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands - Final Practice ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren MCL36 Mercedes leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL36 Mercedes during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2022 in Zandvoort, Netherlands.

McLaren: No excuses for not doing better despite worse wind tunnel

The Woking team finished fifth in the championship this year after finishing third and fourth in the 2020 and 2021 seasons respectively

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McLaren admits that they face difficulties with the current wind tunnel they currently have. However, the Woking team says that there are no excuses for not improving in the short-term.

AUTO-PRIX-MEX-F1-RACEAlpine's French driver Esteban Ocon (R) races ahead of McLaren's British driver Lando Norris during the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix at the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack in Mexico City on October 30, 2022.
Alpine managed to beat McLaren to fourth in the constructors’ championship in 2022 (Image Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images)

McLaren ended their 2022 campaign with 159 points, finishing in fifth. The Woking team’s car did not have the performance to match Alpine. The Enstone team managed to finish 14 points ahead of the team in orange.

McLaren did not have a good pre-season testing. The testing was hampered with brake issues throughout the whole of testing, impacting their start to the season.

The Papaya struggled at the start of the season in Bahrain. The track revealed the MCL36’s weaknesses, showing that the car did not perform well in slow-speed corners.

Despite not having the season they wanted, McLaren were the only team outside the ‘big three’ to achieve a podium finish. Lando Norris was able to capitalise in Imola to finish in third.

However, overall, the season has not been what McLaren would have wanted. Especially, due to the Woking team being more competitive in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, finishing third and fourth respectively.

Compromised wind tunnel is not an excuse

The Woking-based outfit accepts that they don’t have the wind tunnel that Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have, putting them on the backfoot.

However, big investments in a wind tunnel and simulator – due to be ready next year – will give McLaren hope for a positive impact to push the team forward.

The team acknowledges that until the new facilities arrive, it will be challenging to finish above fifth in the constructors’ championship.

However, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the team will not sit back and relax. The German believes that the team can still make steps forward before the new facilities arrive.

“The objective is clear also next year, we want to make another step again in all areas of the team,” he said.

“That’s not just with the car itself, including some of the weaknesses we’ve seen this year, but also with just simply making another step as a team in all aspects.”

AUTO-PRIX-F1-BAHRAINMcLaren's British driver Lando Norris (foreground) drives during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in the city of Sakhir on March 20, 2022.
McLaren were ‘backmarkers’ alongside Williams and Aston Martin in the season opener in Bahrain (Image Credit: MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images)

Seidl also says that he has a “realistic view” of where the team are at currently. The German is also “aware” of the “limitations” the team are having. The 46-year-old mainly points out the “infrastructure side”, especially to the teams that are currently ahead of the Woking team.

“And it’s even teams like Alpine and teams that run behind us at the moment.”

“So that means there isn’t necessarily a step forward possible in terms of the constructors’ championship. But, at the same time, we are racers and we wake up in the morning because we want to shortcut the journey we are in and we try to do a better job. That’s the ambition you’re having.”

McLaren took a step back this year

Despite finishing fifth this year, Seidl still believes the Woking team are still making necessary progress to return to the front of the grid:

“For me in the end, also when I look at this season, it feels like a step backwards compared to previous seasons.”

However, the German still thinks that there were “a lot of positives this year”. The 46-year-old expands on his points saying that the team have “made steps forward” as a team.

“We are on a journey. We know exactly what we have to do in order to make these next steps as a team. At the same time, we know that it takes time.

“But the positive thing is we know all the things that are coming and falling into place are what we need to make this final step in the next few years.”

Seidl also stressed the point of continuity. The German emphasised his point, believing that the current team members are very talented.

“And we simply need to make sure that we keep having continuity also in the team, in terms of personnel organisation, because I’m convinced we have all the talents involved that we need.

“It’s simply down to us now to get everything in place and then make it work, and also show that we can do it.”

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand PrixZak Brown and Andreas Seidl before a photo with McLaren team during the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 20, 2022.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown and McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl (Image Credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
McLaren fully accepts their current limitations

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says the team are very understanding about the limitations of their current Toyota wind tunnel. The American says that it currently holds the car back from its full potential:

“There are things that we can identify in the wind tunnel that we’re in, and the lack of certain technologies that wind tunnel has. It’s an aero game; it’s a drag game.

“Heat isn’t our friend from the grip standpoint. And when we look at what the wind tunnel we’re in now, what it doesn’t do, compared to what our new wind tunnel is going to do, we know what the problem is. We can’t quite tackle it until we have better technology.”

McLaren will have a new driver lineup for 2023. Oscar Piastri will replace fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo as the team looks to improve on its fifth-place finish in 2022.

Feature Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images

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