2023 championship position: 4th, 302 points
Speedcafe's 2024 championship prediction: 2nd
There is no other team that enters the 2024 F1 season with the sort of excitement and expectation that surrounds McLaren.
Off the back of a stunning 2023 recovery, there are some extremely bright signs coming out of the shed in Woking.
On the driver front, it has two of the most exciting prospects on the grid, with Lando Norris having inked a new “multi-year” deal.
The Englishman was linked with possible moves to a number of different teams, most notably Red Bull Racing, but the fact he chose to stay put with McLaren is a strong example of the optimism within the team.
And it's fairly placed, given the efforts on track and the progression of the business off it.
It is no secret that 2023 didn't start the way the team hoped.
After the opening two rounds, it sat 10th and last in the constructors' championship and showed no indication of reversing that form.
Quietly, behind the scenes, designers were feverishly working away and what they delivered in Austria was simply incredible.
But while everyone talks about that upgrade package, there are two other aspects to it that deserve mention.
The first is the team immediately understood the revised car and was able to maximise it.
In a season when the development race was arguably more frenetic than the competition on track, that is a very, very encouraging sign.
Andrea Stella has been quietly confident when speaking of the forthcoming season.
The McLaren team principal was raising red flags this time a year ago, but now he speaks about continued development trajectories – engineer speak for ‘things are looking good but we're trying to keep it all low-key'.
With a car that was clearly very strong, it has a very good baseline to build on, and we can rightly expect more of McLaren this year.
It's the job of those in Woking to provide their drivers with the machinery that, at a minimum, keeps pace when the development race invariably starts – and in 2023 was saw strong evidence of it doing just that.
What's more, McLaren has a new wind tunnel and simulator at its disposal, and a number of key staff have also joined the team.
Wrap it all up, and you have a fascinating proposition for the year ahead.
We can reasonably expect to see a lot of papaya at the front of the field this season.