McLaren MCL38 ready to pick up where F1 team left off in 2023

Fitting that the McLaren F1 team should show its challenger for the 2024 the day after Ferrari — the English team pulled off an even more surprising mid-season turnaround in 2023 than the Italians, finishing the year fourth in the Constructor’s standings, one spot behind Ferrari. And just as Ferrari said of its SF-24, McLaren wants its MCL38 to pick up where last year’s car, which was called the MCL60, left off.

The MCL38 is the first creation of the rearranged technical department; after the MCL60 fared poorly in its first two races of 2023, executive technical director James Key left the team, McLaren men Peter Prodromou and Neil Houldey promoted into new positions to replace him along with ex-Ferrari man David Sanchez. A series of upgrades over three of the summer Grands Prix completely changed the team. Team driver Lando Norris scored 12 points in three races through the first nine races of the season. From the first upgrade in Austria to the end of the season, Norris scored 193 points, going without points in just one race during that span, when he crashed out of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. And as of last month, 17-year Red Bull veteran Rob Marshall joined as the technical director of engineering and design. From comments made at the launch, the technical team has a lot in mind for in-season development.

It’s important to put McLaren’s turnaround in perspective, though — the team hasn’t finished lower than fifth in the Constructor’s table since 2018, when it came sixth. It’s that we’re so used to considering McLaren a top team, even without a championship trophy since 2007, that recovering to finish fourth feels like an outsized triumph.  

To the car: The livery sheds the aqua blue highlights from last year, sticking with historic and “fan-favorite elements” of papaya orange, anthracite and “a touch of chrome.” 

The MCL38 takes to Silverstone Circuit for a promotional filming day today, then heads to the Bahrain International Circuit with every other car for a real shakedown at this year’s only pre-season test, February 21-23.

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