F1: Standings show McLaren have had worst start to a season for six years

McLaren have suffered an underwhelming start to the 2023 F1 season – with the standings compared to previous years showing just how bleak this campaign has been so far.

Following a mixed 2022, the British squad were looking to take a step forward with their young, exciting lineup. Lando Norris was consistently scoring points last year. So, McLaren hoped that the introduction of Oscar Piastri would yield similar results from their second car.

However, this has not been the case thus far.

In September 2022, the FIA made rule changes for 2023 that revised a car’s floor height. This deeply hampered the Papaya’s aerodynamic package and put them on the back foot in the development race. Therefore, they have been struggling throughout the start of this campaign.

Both Norris and Piastri failed to score points at the opening round in Bahrain, as both cars suffered with reliability. The Saudi Arabian GP showed initial promise when Piastri managed to reach Q3. Sadly, though, a first-lap incident ruined the Australian’s great Saturday – the team finished with no points once more.

Melbourne sees McLaren finally climb F1 standings

Mercifully, the chaos of the Australian Grand Prix worked in McLaren’s favour. Their race pace looked much improved, and the Woking-based squad earned a double points finish.

Norris managed a P9 in Baku to add to McLaren’s total, although Miami proved another setback. Both cars exited qualifying in Q1, which thus converted into another weekend without points.

Consequently, McLaren find themselves fifth in the F1 constructors’ standings. On the face of it, this sounds okay – that is until you look at the gap to those ahead. The Papaya, on 14 points, are 64 points adrift of Ferrari in fourth. There is a clear gulf in class between the top four and the rest of the field.

And points-wise, this has been a real down year for McLaren early on.

How does the team’s start compare to previous years?

Despite their position in the standings, McLaren have put up their lowest points total since the 2017 F1 season.

Their 14 points in 2023 are the fewest accumulated since the infamous days of their partnership with Honda. Back in 2017, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne endured a torrid campaign. They started 2017 by going without points in the first seven rounds. It took until the Azerbaijan GP that year before the team earned a top-ten finish.

But this season’s early showing is still a clear sign of regression for the Papaya. They have scored less than a third of the total they managed in 2022 (46pts from the first five races). McLaren are also nowhere near the level they displayed in 2021, the last season before the 2022 aero changes.

In 2021, Daniel Ricciardo and Norris put up 80 points in the first five rounds on their way to fourth in the constructors. They even took a race win during that campaign, too.

This all seems unreachable for this year’s MCL60, though. Last season, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix saw Lando take a brilliant podium for the British team. Now, heading to that same race this year, a top-three finish seems like an impossible target.

So, what would make a successful weekend? Right now, getting at least one car into Q3 – and both into Q2 – would be a solid start. From here, getting some points to consolidate fifth in the F1 standings would make for a positive time at Imola for McLaren.

Featured image credit: Getty