McLaren chief executive Zac Brown recently admitted the team needs to beef up its skills before it can challenge for a top-three finish next season.
The Woking-based team has had a lackluster 2022 season, although Lando Norris is the only driver outside the top three to finish on the podium in 2022.
In an interview with Speedcafe, Brown pointed out the key gap that McLaren need to fill in order to return to their winning era and take a step forward from midfield. He said:
“Well, I think closing the gap up front — we have two data points to watch out for.”
“One is how close we are to the winning team, if that team is not Mercedes. Another data point for us, assuming we share the same engine, how close we are to Mercedes. This is our Two major data points, and we want to get closer to them next year…”
“I would like to get back to at least fourth in the Championship, but I think we need more skill to really get into the top three.”
McLaren last won a grand prix at Monza in 2021, with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finishing 1-2.
McLaren disappointed by ‘difficult’ 2022 F1 season
McLaren must be disappointed to finish the 2022 F1 season fifth in the constructors’ championship after several seasons of upward momentum, claims Zak Brown.
He spoke in particular about the team’s struggles against Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian’s inability to reach the same level as his team-mate Lando Norris cost the team vital championship points in the race for P4.
Speaking of internet cafeBrown highlighted the ups and downs of the season:
“[It was a] Tough season, of course. Fifth was a disappointing fourth, having been third before that. We’ve had our challenges. We did have some great weekends – a nice podium finish at Lando. “
“And then, of course, it’s really hard for us to play against Daniel to get the most out of him. So you guys are well aware that it’s been very difficult to do that in the media all season.”
McLaren has opted to end Daniel Ricciardo’s contract a year early and has announced that 2021 Formula Two champion Oscar Piastri will replace the eight-time grand prix champion in 2023. Referring to Piastri’s debut with the team for the upcoming season, Brown added:
“We’re super excited to get another Australian at the Oscars – and it’s not without a bit of arm wrestling and drama. So yeah, it’s been a tough year.”
During the year, McLaren battled Alpine for fourth in the constructors’ championship, however, the British team could not keep pace with the French team at the end of the season.