Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Tech analysis: How McLaren lifted its game at Spanish GP


Waiting for Honda to make strides is not an option for McLaren, and so the team has been busy developing the MCL32 with its latest update appearing at Barcelona.

This may seem like a slightly futile endeavour, but there is no point storing up all those ideas being created at the factory for when Honda does produce the goods as every tenth of a second of performance will help.

The front wing is always a hotbed of development activity, such is its role in providing performance for the entire car.

Each and everyone of its surfaces is designed to set up and manage how the air moves around the rest of the car, with the control of the wake generated by the front tyre of utmost importance.

The changes made by McLaren for Spain centered around achieving this goal, with the shape of the mainplane slightly revised to encourage airflow to move across and around the front face of the tyre in a specific way.

Meanwhile, the most visceral change came at the hands of the inner endplate canard, with the single element previously utilised cast aside in favour of three wider elements.

The role of these winglets is to guide the airflow around the front tyre, with the intention of drawing the wake away from areas of the car it may reduce performance on downstream too.


McLaren MCL32 bargeboard detail
McLaren MCL32 bargeboard detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Over the last few GPs the team has been optimising this area of the car, with the bargeboard's footplate (red arrow) receiving more detailing in order to improve the way airflow moves around the surface and onward to the floor downstream.


McLaren MCL32 rear detail
McLaren MCL32 rear detail

Photo by: Sutton Images

The team introduced a new diffuser in Spain, taking onboard something we've already seen adopted by Mercedes and Red Bull this season: a vertical slot in the outside wall of the diffuser.

The introduction of the slot, which is there to change the rotation of the vortex that forms at the diffuser's outer edge, is not the only change though, with geometric alterations made to the wall and perforated gurneys above (see inset for comparison).


McLaren MCL32 floor detail
McLaren MCL32 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren treats this area of the floor very differently to the rest of the teams.

Instead of littering the edge of their floor with slots like the rest of the field, McLaren has opted to place a triangular wedge on the outer periphery of the floor and a curved upstand on the trailing edge as they tackle the issue of tyre squirt in a different fashion.

These surfaces, like the slots, are used to manipulate the airflow before it reaches the tyre - in order to reduce the turbulence created by the tyre that can have a negative impact on the performance of the diffuser.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams McLaren
Article type Analysis
Topic Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis