McLaren expect an Australian revival

McLaren may feel down in the dumps. They are one of just two teams to date without any points from the first two rounds of the 2023 season.

Having eight constructor titles to their name, the Woking based team are joint third in the all time F1 standings alongside Mercedes and to give this some context Red Bull have just five championships and are in 5th behind Lotus with 7.



Bruce McLaren had a worse F1 start

Yes McLaren are plumb last with a P15, 2xP17 and a DNF behind  Alpha Tauri who are also on zero points but have missed out on the points narrowly at both this year’s grand prix with 2xP11 and 2xP14.

For a team competing for ‘best of the rest’ with Alpine in 2022, the fall seems mighty and the road ahead long.

Yet McLaren have seen worse starts to a season such as 1966. During the inaugural season in F1, Bruce McLaren competed just one car and despite qualifying 10th his M2B survived just nine laps before an oil leak ended his race.

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Fake McLaren in 1966 film “Grand Prix”

Footage of the McLaren car and its pilot did though make it into the final cut of the film Grand Prix released later that year.

The next race was the Belgium Grand Prix where oil leaks again plagued Bruce and his M2B. Having qualified the car he decided not to start given he had no spare engine. This meant for the filming of “Grand Prix” another car was painted in the Papaya orange as a look alike.

For 1994 McLaren had switched to Peugeot engines which proved to be reliably unreliable.

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Coulthard’s P2 resulted in DSQ

Mikka Hakkinen and Martin Brundle suffered DNF’s in each of the first two events of the year and a whopping 13 from the efforts 9 races in total.

Defending his world title, Mikka Hakkinen started both races of the 2000 campaign from pole position, but failed to make the chequered flag. 

Despite locking out the front row in round two in Brazil, Hakkinen suffered a DNF from oil pressure. Coulthard who had DNF’d already in Australia claimed P2 at the end of the race but was later disqualified for a front wing end plate infringement.




McLaren may have 5th quickest car

Given Oscar Piastri qualified his McLaren on row four last time out in Saudi Arabia, there’s hope the McLaren MCL60 has genuine pace.

Lando Norris failed to progress from Q1 having his the wall on a flying lap. Though had Norris delivered on usual form it would be have a close fight between him and an Alpine to be the 5th quickest car in Jeddah.

Piastri was unable to maximise his starting position due to first lap contact which forced him to pit for a new front wing. 

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Melbourne: home of LeClerc’s first grand slam

With Red Bull in a league of their own at present, McLaren may yet be able to tag onto the second tier of teams which includes Aston Martin, Ferrari Mercedes and Alpine.

The circuit at Albert Park replaced the previous street race in Adelaide as the home of the Australian GP from 1996 and this year’s race will be the 26th at the venue.

Last year saw Charles Leclerc score his first ever F1 ‘grand slam’ claiming pole position, leading every lap and the race win together with fastest lap.

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Hamilton just 2 wins in Australia

Unlike certain F1 venues, Albert Park has been mastered by few. Michael Schumacher has claimed the most wins with 4 while Lewis Hamilton has a record 8 pole positions but just twice finished ahead of the rest of the field (2008, 2015).

McLaren have the most Australian GP wins by a constructor with 11, but as if the omens were not great for Piastri already, no Australian driver has ever won his home GP.

Team Boss Andrea Stella confirmed at the season opener in Bahrain the team would bring upgrades to the car in Melbourne. 

So although Piastri breaking the Aussie duck of F1 wins at home is not really on the cards, a renewed McLaren battle with Alpine would spice things up again.

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