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Stella addresses his ‘worries’ over a potential uncompetitive McLaren at the Chinese Grand Prix

Stella has admitted that the Shanghai International circuit "is the track that worries" him the most

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McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella has acknowledged that he expects the MCL-38 to struggle at the Chinese Grand Prix after suggesting the race will be mainly focussed on “damage limitation”.

Andrea Stella, McLaren F1 MCL60 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 07, 2024 in Jeddah,...
Andrea Stella during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
A McLaren blip in performance is expected

McLaren have had their best start to a season in 13 years, after scoring 69 points from the opening four rounds. With both drivers scoring points in every event.

The opening phases of 2024 have also seen Lando Norris add another podium to his collection while also picking up the more unwanted title of most podium finishes without a win in F1.

The Japanese Grand Prix saw Norris’ race ruled by strategy. The Woking-based outfit looked for an alternate aggressive two-stop strategy to leapfrog the Ferrari of Leclerc. This strategy ended up leaving the Brit behind the Ferrari as the Maranello-based team performed a well-timed undercut.

However, the expected comeback may have to wait till the Miami Grand Prix as the McLaren team boss doesn’t believe his team will have the driveability in the slow corners.

As reported by Motorsport.com, Stella said:

“I have to say that of these first part of the season, China is the track that worries me the most from a competitiveness point of view.

“You have so much low-speed, hairpins. Even in corner two, corner three, you spend so long in long corners.

“And I think it’s been a theme I’ve been repeating. So far, we haven’t been able to improve the car enough in these low-speed, medium-speed long corners.

“So from a competitive competitiveness point of view, I would expect a more difficult situation than here in Suzuka, Australia and the first part of the season.”

“Damage Limitation” for McLaren in China

British driver Lewis Hamilton currently holds the most wins at the Shanghai International Circuit with six, two of which he scored at McLaren in 2008 and 2011. The British team have also won with Jenson Button in his first season with the team in 2010.

However, such success is not expected this time in China, with Stella suggesting that it will mainly be about maintaining their 35-point gap over Mercedes in fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

“China may be a bit of damage limitation for us,” Stella added.

“And then from Miami onwards, hopefully we start kind of a better stage of this 2024 season and more to come in the second part of the season.

“It’s going to be a challenging event, from several points of view. What is the tarmac situation will we find?

“At the same time, let’s not forget that China was one of the most severe tracks for graining. So how will the tyres be able to cope with this?

“It’s also a tricky track in terms of balance between some very high-speed corners, like entering corner one, and then many low-speed sections.

“Seeing it in isolation, it gives a headache. But once you see it from a competitive point of view, I think you need to think: ‘If I do not do a perfect job, but a little bit better job than others, then this could be a big opportunity.”

Free Practice 1 for the Chinese Grand Prix will begin at 4:30 am BST (11:30 am local time).

 

Featured image:Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images

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