WOKING, England—Following their disappointment in finishing fifth in last season’s constructor’s championship, McLaren launched their MCL 60 Monday afternoon at their factory, with the number celebrating their anniversary of their existence in motor sports.

Despite their setback, the team expects to attempt to finish as the best of the rest for 2023 but realizes that it might take time to get the full potential with the car.

The off-season was quite interesting for McLaren, as former driver Daniel Ricciardo was ousted at the conclusion of last year, considering that he won the Italian Grand Prix in his first year on the squad. However, this change resulted in the taking of Riccardo’s fellow compatriot Oscar Piastri, who had been penciled in as Fernando Alonso’s replacement at Alpine when the Spaniard moved to Aston Martin. But after wheeling and dealing that saw the French team lose the deal due to a clause in the contract, McLaren finally managed to get Piastri, and the Australian will now begin his rookie season alongside Briton Lando Norris.

In addition, the Team Manager position has also been changed, with former boss Andreas Seidel leaving for Alfa Romeo Sauber, who will be owned by Audi in a few years’ time. His replacement comes in the form of Andrea Stella, who believes that the car won’t do better until the upgrades later in the season can make all the difference.

"I think it's fair to say that over the course of the season we would like to establish ourselves as part of the top four," Stella said. "We know realistically with the top three teams, this may mean potentially being the fourth best car over the course of the season.

We are realistic in the very short term, there's good developments already in the pipeline that should land trackside very soon in the season and should allow us to take a decent step forward.

We are not naive, we know that pretty much every team will be saying the same, 'we have good developments' and so on. Like I said, we also have more high level developments going on in the team.”

Stella also added that the upgrade could come as soon as the fourth round of the championship on certain items.

McLaren's MCL 60 is named after the anniversary of the founding of the company. McLaren photo

"I think while we are happy with the development of the car in most of the areas, there is some areas which we realised a little late into the development some really strong directions," he said.

So, not necessarily we will be able to capitalise these directions in the very short term, and that's why I also talk about the developments coming just after the start of the season.

So in this sense, I just invoke realism. In a way, it's more relative to ourselves but it's such a competitive game that I would be surprised if - normally you need to be totally happy and totally at the top of what you can do to achieve your targets let's say - that's why we talk about realism."

Although the plan is to be competitive for another year, McLaren can now back that statement up by completing their new wind tunnel by the end of this season.

By Mark Gero

The Papaya car has always been a tradition in the McLaren team. McLaren photo