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McLaren has unveiled its 2023 contender, the MCL60.
Wait, wasn’t their 2022 car called the MCL36?
Wow, astute of you, dear reader. That’s correct. McLaren has taken a page out of Ferrari’s book on car naming conventions (their last three cars were the SF1000, the SF-21, and SF-75). The car is named in commemoration of the team’s 60th anniversary.
Will the new car carry McLaren back to the sharp end of the field and back to championship contention? Well, I’m sure they hope so!
McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri joined CEO Zak Brown and Team Principal Andrea Stella to show off the car from the team’s factory in Woking.
The team is sticking with the papaya, black, and light blue scheme that it debuted in 2022 albeit on a slightly altered livery. The most notable difference is that the rear wing has been doused in some papaya orange, and it looks fantastic.
The MCL60 features a new, tighter sidepod design, but as we know by now, the car that they show off at the launch and the one that hits the track could be different.
McLaren Could Top The Midfield But The MCL60 Needs To Be Driveable
It seems like a no-brainer, but you want your Formula 1 car to be driveable. It needs to do whatever the driver wants it to do when they want it.
McLaren’s MCL36 did not do that.
The car was an absolute headache for both drivers but especially Daniel Ricciardo, who also had trouble adapting to the MCL35 during the 2021 season.
McLaren has replaced Ricciardo with Oscar Piastri for 2023. He’s a touted driver who was Alpine’s reserve driver in 2022 after championships in F2 and F3. There’s no doubt that Piastri can handle F1 machinery, but that transition needs to be as smooth as possible,
Ricciardo isn’t a slouch. He has 8 Grand Prix wins to his credit. If a driver as experienced in an F1 car as Ricciardo had trouble, a rookie who is still coming to grips with the series could really have some trouble.
Norris Averaged a P8 start last season and a P7 finish. Meanwhile, Ricciardo was just behind him with an average start of P9 and a finish of P8. They’ll want to qualify up the order a bit more to score points on a more consistent basis and avoid a dogfight to the finish like they had with Alpine last season.
We may see those two duking it out again, but I think this time around McLaren will come out on top. I’d pencil them in for a P4 finish in the constructors’ standing, but wouldn’t be stunned to see them drop to P5 or even P6 if the wheels really fall off.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle