Only Lando Norris will use McLaren’s “milestone” Formula 1 car upgrade at the Austrian Grand Prix with both drivers getting an improved version of the package at Silverstone next weekend.
McLaren’s biggest upgrade so far this season has been introduced in several stages due to the quantity of parts and the team’s desire to use them as quickly as possible.
The first half of the package will debut this weekend in Austria, as it is the very first McLaren can design and build it, before two smaller installments at the British and Hungarian GPs that need more time to prepare.
But only Norris’ car will bring the first batch of new parts to the Red Bull Ring, with Oscar Piastri waiting until the next race at Silverstone – where he and Norris will have around 75% of the full package . The rest will be used in both cars in Hungary.
The Austria split is so that McLaren will have a large part of the upgrade and spares available this weekend.
As the Austrian GP is a sprint weekend, parc ferme restrictions are set in advance. Any change of specification from qualifying means that the pitlane will start for both sprint races on Saturday and Sunday of the grand prix.
If McLaren splits the parts available to the two cars, it risks a very expensive penalty if something breaks.
Norris is both the more experienced driver and the highest placed in the championship, so it makes sense that he would be ahead of the upgrade over rookie Piastri.
“We are excited, we have upgrades to Lando’s car this weekend,” Piastri said at the pre-event press conference.
“The plan was to do it for both of us at Silverstone but the team did a very good job in getting a set forward for this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out, and of course, we have a solid package in my side of the team, we know what it’s really capable of, so still try to get points and do our best.”
“We didn’t mean to have any of this, really, for this weekend, it was all meant for Silverstone,” Norris confirmed.
“The fact that we got, let’s say, some of it, not all of it, will be a good step forward, especially with it being a sprint race, there might be some chances to get points if we can – if it’s good enough . one step – twice. That’s why we pushed so hard and the team was able to deliver on getting some pieces here early.
An earlier upgrade package in Azerbaijan started a course-correction for McLaren, which realized it was lagging behind in its floor design as part of initial interpretations of F1’s ground-effect rules introduced last year.
That is still part of a body of work that began under the previous technical regime, however, whereas this package is from the new structure implemented in April when technical director James Key was ousted and a three- pronged organization was installed instead.
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said the Red Bull Ring should be more in the team’s favor but put more emphasis on upgrades that change their competitive fortunes.
“Ultimately, for us it is a milestone in terms of the possible round of the season not only thanks to what we bring to Austria, but also thanks for what will follow in the next races,” said by Stella after a previous race in Canada.
“So our hope, more than the characteristics of the track, is in the car itself.
“At least we’re just one [practice] session, hopefully we can validate the new package and from there move to a more competitive situation.
“I am banking on this package, but in the three races where we will introduce it. A few tenths of a second should be noticeable from a laptime point of view.”
#Norris #milestone #McLaren #upgrade #Austria #Race