McLaren have revealed the MCL60, named in honour of the team’s 60th anniversary, ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season; Lando Norris is joined by F1 rookie Oscar Piastri to form the youngest driver line-up on the grid; Andrea Stella steps up as team principal following Andreas Seidl’s exit.
McLaren celebrated the past and set their sights on a bright future as the team kicked off their 60th anniversary season with the launch of their 2023 Formula 1 challenger.
The MCL60 was revealed at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on Monday with a livery largely similar to its predecessor, with the most notable changes being an anniversary season tribute and more black areas, the latter continuing a theme among several teams looking to reduce weight by removing paint.
There was a fresh feel to the launch as Britain’s Lando Norris was joined on stage by his new rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri, along with McLaren chief executive Zak Brown and new team principal Andrea Stella, who was promoted from executive director in the off-season following Andreas Seidl’s departure for Sauber.
The team are looking to improve on a 2022 campaign in which they slipped a place down the constructors’ standings to fifth, losing out to Alpine in the battle to be the best of the rest behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
“We are delighted to launch our 2023 Formula One team with Lando and Oscar at the wheel as we celebrate 60 years of McLaren Racing,” Brown said. “This year’s driver line-up is extremely exciting as Lando, an intelligent and confident driver with excellent pace, is joined by one of the biggest up-and-coming talents in motorsport with Oscar.
“2022 was a challenging season in our continued effort to push towards the front of the grid, we learnt a lot which has been taken into the off-season as the entire team works hard to prepare for another year.
“Under the guidance of Andrea Stella, we have an excellent team to spearhead the 2023 season and can look forward to seeing our young driver duo continue to grow their partnership throughout the upcoming campaign.”
The brightest spot in McLaren’s challenging 2022 was the continued excellence of Norris, who enters his fifth year in F1 having further enhanced his status as one of the best drivers on the grid.
“The off-season has been good but I’m looking forward to getting back on track and behind the wheel of the MCL60 for the first time,” Norris said. “The new car looks great, and everyone involved in the build has played an important role.
“This is my fifth year in F1 and I’m hoping to carry positive momentum into the new season after a year of racing under the new era of regulations. It’s been a good challenge adapting to them and I feel that I’m in a positive position to keep on improving as a driver.”
2021 F2 champion Piastri arrives in F1 after making a dramatic entrance to the sport as he controversially rejected a seat at Alpine to join McLaren, with a hearing – which ruled in the 21-year-old Australian’s favour – required to confirm the process had been legal.
“I’m delighted to get started with McLaren and make my F1 debut this season,” Piastri said. “The off-season has been great for me, and I’ve been working hard to prepare for the upcoming year.
“The time I’ve spent at the factory and in the sim has been enjoyable and productive, and everyone in the team has been welcoming. I’ve settled in well and I’m now fully focused on getting out on track in Bahrain.”
McLaren have yet to confirm when the MCL60 will make its first appearance on track, with a shakedown expected before pre-season testing begins in Bahrain on February 23.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 13, 2023
Stella ‘not entirely happy’ | Norris: ‘Long way’ to the front
Amid the anniversary celebrations came a warning from new team principal Stella that the start of the season could be challenging for McLaren.
The Italian, who earlier in his career worked as a race engineer at Ferrari for seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, admitted that he is “not entirely happy” with the MCL60, but is hopeful that in-season development will propel them to fourth in the constructors’ standings by the end of the campaign.
“I think it’s fair to say that over the course of the season we would like to establish ourselves as part of the top four,” Stella said. “We know realistically that, with the top three teams, this may mean just being the fourth best car over the course of the season.
“We are realistic in the very short term. There are good developments already in the pipeline trackside that should land trackside very soon – this should allow us to take a decent step forward.
“Assessing our performance last year and looking at competitors, we identified multiple areas of opportunity – the good news is that pretty much all of them have been addressed.
McLaren in F1 2023
|2022 championship finish
|Best championship finish
|1st (1974, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998)
“I wouldn’t want to be too specific but certainly they are predominantly to do with aerodynamics. There are some areas – such as interactions with the tyres – that we needed to work on – and this was done over the winter.
“There are some other areas of the cars that will be helped by developments in the early stage of the season. So we are happy, not entirely happy, for what is the launch car, but optimistic that it should take a good step soon.”
McLaren are in the latter stages of building a new wind tunnel and simulator, which are set to be ready later this year, and Stella is optimistic over the impact those investments will have on the team’s future.
“We also have some more high-level developments ongoing in the team,” he added. “I would like to remind the importance of getting the new wind tunnel, which should come to fruition around mid-year. That should be a step change for many reasons, not only does it improve methodologies.”
“There’s also the new simulator coming. We have a new manufacturing facility, so large investments that should come to fruition mid-year and this should be an extra boost in the race to become top four over the season.”
Despite Stella’s warning, Norris is hopeful he will arrive in Bahrain for the season opener with a better car than he did 12 months ago, when the Brit could only finish 15th as brake issues plagued McLaren.
“I think from where we are now, a realistic and successful year would be to still take some big steps forward – we’re ambitious and we still want to do that,” Norris said. “But no matter how we start the season, I want to believe it’s going to be better than last year because last year was a very tough start.
“We need to be the team that’s leading the way in the fight to top three teams, and if we can at least end this season around that place where we’re fighting for fourth in the constructors, then I think that’s what we need to be happy with.
“It’s still ambitious, we have a lot of work to do in order achieve it, but I think that’s a realistic goal. I don’t think you can expect us to be on par with the Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes at this time – we still have a long way to get to that point.”