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McLaren target further improvement despite recent F1 success

McLaren's recent strides in overcoming low-speed corner deficiencies marked a significant step forward for the team.

But now boss Andrea Stella has pinpointed kerb and bump-riding as the next critical area for development.

Historically, McLaren's Formula 1 cars have excelled in high-speed corners while struggling in low-speed sections, a trend affecting all their drivers, including current talents Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Over the past year, McLaren introduced three major upgrades. While the first two failed to address the low-speed issues, the latest package brought to the Miami Grand Prix appeared to mitigate these problems effectively.

Stella highlighted that while low-speed corner performance has improved, the car's handling over kerbs and bumps still requires substantial development. "It will require some more fundamental development than simply adapting what we have available on the car right now," Stella explained.

He noted that although setup adjustments could be made, they were insufficient to match the kerb-riding capabilities seen in rival cars. "Our drivers are pretty vocal that some other cars seem able to ride the kerbs with more confidence," he added.

Despite these challenges, McLaren showed promising results at recent races. Monaco, known for its slow-speed corners, was anticipated to be difficult for the MCL38. However, Piastri qualified and finished second, with Norris in fourth, marking the team's best two-car finish of the season.

This performance followed a strong showing at Imola, where the car excelled in medium-to-low speed corners. In that race, both drivers qualified second and third, although Piastri faced a grid penalty, and Norris finished second, just behind Max Verstappen.

Stella expressed optimism regarding these performances. "In general, I would say looking at the sector times [in Monaco], we seem to be behaving alright in the low-speed," he said.

The upgrades introduced in Miami appeared to enhance the car's low-speed handling beyond expectations. "We have understood how to use this car in low-speed corners, which seems to work well. Even in Miami, the track layout is dominated by low-speed, and in Monaco, the sector where we struggled the most was the first sector where the lowest-speed corner is 120kph," he elaborated.

Stella acknowledged that while the car's low-speed performance had improved, there remained areas for enhancement, particularly in kerb and bump handling. "There are plenty of opportunities as we are not entirely satisfied with the behaviour on kerbs and bumps. There is more work to do," he admitted. Nevertheless, he emphasized the positive trajectory of their development, which had begun to transform their competitiveness in low-speed scenarios.

Looking ahead, McLaren's focus shifts to the Canadian Grand Prix, set to take place from June 7-9 at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. As the ninth race of the season, it will provide another opportunity for the team to test their improvements and continue refining their car's performance across all conditions.

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