[Stella refuses to take sole credit for McLaren’s impressive F1 turnaround
The Woking-based team caused a stir at the British Grand Prix as a major upgrade package helped Lando Norris emerge as Max Verstappen’s main threat for the race victory, with the McLaren driver second and team-mate Oscar Piastri fourth.
That star performance came in the wake of a disappointing start to the 2023 campaign for McLaren, which confessed on the eve of the season that its launch-spec car was not as quick as it would have liked.
But a technical restructure at the outfit, and a solid development plan to revamp the MCL60, has helped lift Norris and Piastri from being backmarkers to challenging right at the front.
While Stella, who stepped into the team principal role over the winter following the departure of Andreas Seidl, has been instrumental in plotting McLaren’s recovery, he remains humble about his own contribution.
And rather than wanting to take too much credit for what he has done, he thinks it important that others who have played a part in the turnaround should get praise.
“You know, for me, my focus is just doing the right things,” he said. “Just focus on performance, focus on creating a vision for the team, making sure that everyone understands what the vision is, and what the direction is.
“The most important thing is that you don’t do these things alone. I’ve been very, very well supported. And even the collaboration with Zak [Brown, CEO] has been incredibly close and strategic.
“It will be a mistake to say, ‘I’, or ‘you’. It’s a group work, even when it comes to the leadership. An F1 team is too complex to think that somebody alone can turn a situation around and recognise the people that should be part of this journey.”
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Erik Junius
Stella says decisions he has taken – which included a new technical structure that meant there was no place for former technical director James Key – were simply about putting in place systems that fitted better what McLaren needed.
“We wanted to establish a different model, from a technical point of view, based on distributing the aerodynamic, car concept and performance, and the engineering and design function in three different areas,” he explained. “This is just a different way of working.
“It doesn’t have to do with somebody in particular, it just requires a bit more of a distributed model when it comes to the technical organisation. So that was the rationale.
“And, if we talk about the leadership that contributed to the change, I want to praise all the people that work with me – Piers Thynne, the chief operating officer, and Daniel Gallo, chief people officer – and then certainly all of this under the coordination and the strategic input from Zak. So, it’s teamwork.”
But while Stella may not want to big up the job he has done at McLaren, Brown himself is in no doubt about the contribution the Italian has made.
“This guy is awesome,” Brown told Sky. “The way he inherited what we had at the start of the year, recognised the challenges that we had, put in a technical restructure and promoted people from within.
“Because while we’ve made some big hires that are joining, they haven’t joined yet, so this is still the work of all the men and women under Andrea’s leadership.”