LONDON: McLaren chief executive Zak Brown said the team were “realistic” about the celebrated team’s prospects for the 2024 Formula One season as they unveiled their new car on Wednesday.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was the second-highest points scorer behind Red Bull’s runaway champion Max Verstappen in the final 12 races of last year’s campaign following a major car upgrade. That though was still only good enough for a sixth-placed finish and Brown said at Wednesday’s launch: “Every team will have made progress in the off-season.”

McLaren’s new car, the MCL38, will have its first test at Silverstone on Monday with Norris and team-mate Oscar Piastri driving.

But whether it is the vehicle to add to McLaren’s impressive tally of 12 Formula One drivers’ championship and eight constructors’ titles, remains to be seen after the team finished fourth in 2023 but still a mammoth 558 points adrift of champions Red Bull.

“The fantastic thing about this sport is how competitive it is, and therefore we must remain realistic,“ said Brown. “The true test of whether we’ve made steps in the right direction will be qualifying in Bahrain.

“We’re all excited to go racing again, but we know there’s a long season ahead of us and a lot of work still to do to ensure we build on the progress we made throughout 2023,“ he added.

The opening Grand Prix of the F1 season is due to take place in Bahrain on March 2. - AFP

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