McLaren's Unstable Future

McLaren's Unstable Future


McLaren's Unstable Future


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After a rocky start to the 2023 season, in which McLaren has yet to score a point and crack above 15th in the finishing order, the team is in a sticky position.

Once the “best of the rest” after Red Bull/Mercedes/Ferrari, McLaren has been backsliding. Alpine narrowly squeaked by McLaren to finish fourth in the Constructors last season, and it appears that this season, McLaren won’t even be sniffing the top five, as Alpine has remained consistent in its finishing and Aston Martin has exploded with its car this season.

The firings came relatively quickly into this season. Former Technical Director James Key, who had been with McLaren since 2019, was ousted last week and replaced by Ferrari’s David Sanchez, and Peter Prodromou and Neil Houdley are being elevated from their positions within McLaren. No longer will there be one technical director, but instead a triumvirate of engineers who will report directly to team principal Andrea Stella. 

However, Sanchez will not be able to join McLaren until Jan 1, 2024, as he is on gardening leave with Ferrari. Restructuring with moves that make waves such as changing around many positions takes time to sort itself out, and it  will take a few months for McLaren to get back on track and fully operational. 

McLaren is now behind the 8-ball in its development with its 2024 car, and 2025 will still be the goal to fight as a top team, as CEO Zak Brown has stated. But the problem with putting all of its eggs in the 2025 basket is that in 2026, new regulations are set to hit Formula 1, which will be a completely new car to design and change. McLaren is also considering bringing on a new engine manufacturer and partner in 2026 and beyond, which will make the 2026 car and beyond different than anything its team has designed before.

Internal restructuring, developments being missed, and the hunt for a new engine supplier have all caused headaches for McLaren and its passionate fanbase.

But what may hurt the Woking, U.K., based team is the possibility of its star driver Lando Norris leaving. The British pilot, who’s been with the team since 2019, turned heads in the racing world by signing a long-term contract in 2022 which expires in 2025. If McLaren still isn’t producing a top-contending car by that point or it’s still trending downwards, Norris could leave to find greener pastures, and his hopeful time of winning consistently with the team will have been a waste. 

It hasn’t been 2023 that McLaren was hoping for, and its car needs upgrades for this season ASAP. But even if/when they do come, it’s going to be a tough next few years for the papaya-donned team.


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