New structure, new wind tunnel and increased technical team. It cannot be said that McLaren is sitting idly by the rest
Zak Brown and his troupe have been making headlines, but not because of their on-track performance. If it were for that, the beginning of 2023 has been unpromising. However, the movement to try to change the picture draws attention.
Last week, a reformulation of the technical structure was announced, which led to the resignation of the then Technical Director James Key and the creation of a new group. This has been well addressed by us here.
As a show of strength, today two facts show that McLaren does want to regain its place among the top teams and does want to “change the mentality”.
In an article by journalist Jonathan Noble, from Autosport, published this week, he realizes that the team is in the process of hiring 15 new members for the technical area, including Mariano Alperin, who went through Minardi, BAR, Honda and was at Aston Martin.
In addition, McLaren has brought back to the front line an old acquaintance: Neil Oatley, who has been with the team since 1987 and was responsible for the team’s cars from 1989 to 1997. Previously in a more advisory capacity, Oatley will join to the technical group to share their experience.
In addition, finally the new wind tunnel so planned and whose construction was postponed due to McLaren’s financial problems is in the calibration process and should start working in the 2nd half of this year. In this way, the 2024 car project must have its final part done in-house.
It may sound silly, but having this at home helps. McLaren has a wind tunnel in its huge Technology Center in Woking and used it until 2018. However, due to several technical problems, the team started using the Toyota tunnel in Cologne (Germany).
But wasn’t it enough just to modernize what you already had? This was the plan. However, the financial issue weighed in, the pandemic came and the plans were shelved. Only with the arrival of American partners at the end of 2020 can the issue be resumed.
Having to leave England for Germany is something that takes development time and in F1, this is crucial. Today, only Haas, Aston Martin and McLaren use external units from their factories. The only one that suffers like McLaren is AlphaTauri, whose headquarters are in Italy and the wind tunnel is in England.
The fact is that the team has tried to show that these changes are not a reaction to the start of the year that is far from what was expected. Of course, it tackles this issue, as present performance impacts not only track results, but also development time and money to be received from awards.
With these changes, McLaren tries to position itself to regain the ground it expected to be further ahead at this point in F1. The great hope was the new rules, but the financial issue had an impact. The current changes will give some breathing room for 2024 and 2025, in addition to preparing for the next big turnaround scheduled for 2026.
One cannot accuse Zak Brown of inaction. So far, his balance of action has been positive, having pulled McLaren out of a certain decline. The various commercial deals and efforts to grow the team are commendable. Some may question the expansion of activities to other categories and perhaps lack of focus. But McLaren today looks better than a few years ago.
There have been many “now go” voices for McLaren in recent years, including this space. The latest moves make the team’s fans cross their fingers once again and say once again: now go.