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Stella opens up on 'honest' McLaren F1 approach

McLaren's Andrea Stella has explained his open approach with fans and media during his first year as a Formula 1 team principal.

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 3rd position, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, celebrate after the race
Stella took over from the Audi-bound Andreas Seidl at the start of 2023 and was praised for steering the team in a different direction, implementing an overhauled technical structure in Woking while also proving to be a candid figurehead for the team towards the general public and the press.
Once it became clear McLaren had completely missed its launch targets for 2023, Stella was quick to explain where the team had gone wrong and what his plan was to get its season back on track.
When asked by Motorsport.com if his blunt honesty was a deliberate strategy, Stella replied: "I have a very simple strategy: just say things as they are. It’s very simple. It puts you in a solid place.
"If you try to create stories that don’t reflect the reality, that will allow you to get away with it for a short term, but it’s not creating foundations. If we want to create foundations we need to just stick with what we know, stick with what we think is true.
"Eventually I would rather say, ‘I cannot share this because I don’t want to give it away to our competitors or because it’s sensitive, or simply because I’m uncertain and I don’t want to offer an opinion just to show that I can talk about anything’. I’d rather say [nothing].
Stella's straightforwardness is also setting the tone for how McLaren works internally and says it's a value that "belongs to our culture".
"Intellectual honesty, rigorousness – they are very important. And they are not important because they belong to me. They are important because they belong to our culture as a team," he expanded.
Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, the McLaren team celebrate after the race

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, the McLaren team celebrate after the race

"That means that this is an expectation from anybody working at McLaren. Intellectual honesty, rigorousness – acknowledging facts for what they are. Because once we know that, then we can do something about it. But creating after facts is just a short-lived approach."
Under Stella's guidance, McLaren embarked on an upgrade spree which delivered mid-season upgrades that allowed drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri to fight for podiums, while McLaren moved up to finish fourth in the constructors' standings.
When asked how much he had enjoyed his first season in charge, Stella said that even the difficult early months of the season proved rewarding and not just the late season run of nine podiums.
"I have to say, I was enjoying it – this new experience in my professional career – even when the results weren’t very good on track," he replied.
"This is because effectively the real motivation, the real enjoyment I get in this job comes from the interactions with people.
"And then seeing that the group you are trying to build grows and seeing the people picking up, developing, becoming more competent, becoming more confident – this is actually what gives me the energy that generates the determination. 
"When results on-track come, this is a reinforcement, this is an amplification. But you can’t base the motivation, you can’t base even the ultimate reasoning why you do this on results. You do it on the sense of building."
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