“Slightly more well-behaved than we anticipated based on our development tools” — Stella says MCL38 F1 car working better than expected in low speed

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
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McLaren have continued their run of success as of late. After capping off their first victory since 2021 in Miami, the team has racked up 2 podiums in 2 races, as Lando Norris finished in 3rd in Imola, and Oscar Piastri finished second in Monaco.

Since their upgrade package arrived in Miami that led to Norris’ first win in F1, the team has seen significant improvements in the low speed, previously a weakness for quite some time.

“Well, here in Monaco it is more difficult than in other circuits to reconstruct the speed of our competitors, compare it with our speed and therefore have a precise assessment of where we gain or we lose time. But in general, I would say that looking at the sector times, we seem to be behaving all right in low speed.

“This is because definitely it looks like the car we took to Miami sort of behaves well in low speed, almost kind of beyond what was our expectation. 

“I think we have also understood how to use this car in low speed, which seems to work well. Even Miami, if you think about the track layout, is dominated by low speed.

“And if anything, here in Monaco, the sector where we struggled the most was the first sector in which the lowest speed corner is corner 1, which is 120. So it’s a medium to high speed sector. 

“So it looks like the picture of our competitiveness is starting to finally change, where low speed doesn’t appear anymore like a clear weakness.

“Still, there’s plenty of opportunities. We are not entirely satisfied, for instance, with the behavior on kerbs, on bumps. There’s some more work to do.

“But I think the positive news is that through development, we seem like we have been able to alter this picture whereby we were not performing well in low speed.”

Now, as the F1 circus heads to Canada, Stella has had time to analyse the pace and strengths of the car, and he says that the new upgrade package has delivered more than they expected.

While they are pleased, they have to understand where the performance is coming from to improve on it for the future.

“What we see and what we expected is just more downforce in all conditions.

“But the car, compared to what we expected, seems to be well-behaved also in low speed — possibly slightly more than we anticipated based on our development tools, which is good news.

“But obviously this is something that we need to understand very accurately, so that we have the right information to further develop in this direction, because it seems to be very profitable for lap time and also seems to make us competitive in circuits which have low-speed corners.

“This aspect of the upgrades possibly working slightly better than expected is kind of across the map. It’s not specific to low-speed.

“For us, it’s still an open point as to why the car now seems to be pretty decent in low-speed. And we don’t want to jump to conclusions too early because it’s pretty fundamental that we derive the most precise answer to this question.

“It could be a big opportunity for further development, so we need to understand exactly why the car is now competitive in low-speed.”