Considering the anticipated wet weather, McLaren opted for a greater amount of downforce compared to its competitors for both cars. This decision proved successful during the sprint event, as Oscar Piastri briefly took the lead and finished in second place, while Norris secured sixth position.
However, the Englishman suggests that with additional time, the team might have potentially reduced the car’s downforce.
When asked about his performance in the sprint, he mentioned that he believed they were not within the ideal downforce range. He also mentioned that they may have chosen a slightly higher setting.
“And that is resulting in a loss of approximately six, seven, eight-tenths solely on the straight sections.”
“Then you add clipping and the battery harvest, it can easily be up to almost a second in the straights during a race. But obviously, we get a decent amount back in the corners.
“There is always a back and forth, but perhaps not in the most ideal location. This is probably the drawback of only having FP1 and qualifying on Friday, as we were unable to properly adjust the car within the desired range.”
At the end of the day, we are experiencing a net loss and facing the consequences.
In particular, when the weather is dry, a deficiency in speed while driving in a straight line can pose challenges in defending during an extended stretch on the track.
He stated that there will be challenges along the way. It is acknowledged and must be handled by making the most of our available resources.
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme after the Sprint
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Andrea Stella, the team principal of McLaren, acknowledged that although increased downforce proved advantageous during the wet sprint race, his drivers will need to exert extra effort to protect their position on Sunday.
The Italian stated that having slightly more downforce today has certainly improved our performance. However, this comes with the drawback of increased drag caused by the rear wing.
In these circumstances, we have already observed during the qualifying session that it provides significant advantage in the second sector and also enables a slight improvement through Eau Rouge.
This helps reduce the decrease in speed between corner one and corner five, for example. Therefore, it is certainly beneficial in the current conditions.
“At the same time, it puts us at risk in certain scenarios in the future, such as after the beginning and when the safety car resumes the race. We acknowledge this and will make an effort to minimize the impact, but we are aware that there is a potential issue that may arise tomorrow.”
Stella clarified that the team opted for a high downforce setup and did not divide the downforce level between the cars. This decision was based on their familiarity with the upgraded MCL60 at higher levels, as they have not yet fully optimized it for a lower drag configuration.
“I have not yet addressed the issue of reducing the car’s drag at low levels,” he explained. “Using a smaller rear wing would not significantly improve efficiency. Therefore, we have chosen to maintain the current level of efficiency for the car.”
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I cannot reword”
We intend to tackle this issue in the future as it poses challenges when racing the car, particularly in dry conditions and on a flat Eau Rouge, where you become vulnerable to other cars overtaking.