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New F1 wind tunnel will make McLaren more efficient amid "tough decisions"

McLaren believes that constructing its own wind tunnel rather than renting another facility will help it comply with Formula 1's cost cap and enable its recent high-profile hiring spree. 

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

McLaren commissioned a new wind tunnel, which after several delays was completed earlier this summer but is yet to be put into use. Until the new tunnel goes live, McLaren uses Toyota's tunnel in Cologne, and the logistics involved in sending parts off to Germany has impacted the team's speed in bringing development parts to its race cars.

It also overhauled several other facilities at its McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, including upgraded simulation tools and a new manufacturing facility.

The hardware overhaul was followed up by a significant spend on the personnel side to try and fight its way out of the midfield.

McLaren has recruited Red Bull's Rob Marshall and Ferrari's David Sanchez, with its new hires set to be deployed in a new technical structure drawn up by new team boss Andrea Stella.

While CEO Zak Brown admitted McLaren had to "make some tough decisions" elsewhere to fit all of its investments under F1's budget cap, he was adamant the team's new facilities will also make it more efficient in the long term.

"We had some inefficiencies in our spend," Brown replied when asked by Motorsport.com on how McLaren made its overhaul work within the cost cap.

"We weren't operating our own wind tunnel, we were renting a wind tunnel, so that comes at a higher cost than if you're just paying operational expenses for your own.

"We've had to make some tough decisions, but also with some of our new technologies coming online, they're actually financially more efficient and so we're able to redirect some of that inefficient spend into additional headcount."

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing and Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing and Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While McLaren's new hardware is yet to be put into use, the first fruits of Stella's revised staff structure came in the shape of a significant upgrade package that was rolled out across the Austrian and British Grands Prix, which netted Lando Norris a second and team-mate Oscar Piastri a fourth place in Silverstone.

It allowed McLaren to vault to fourth in the constructors' championship after starting the season well off the pace with an inefficient car, which prompted some urgent soul-searching that led to a different approach.

With more upgrades to come in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, Brown praised team principal Stella for devising the team's new technical hierarchy, which has delivered results even before the new hardware comes online and most new staff have started in their roles.

"This guy is awesome," Brown told Sky Sports F1. "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.” 

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