The McLaren secrets revealed at its F1 shakedown

McLaren was the first team to pull the covers off its 2021 Formula 1 car when it presented the MCL35M for the first time earlier this week.

The McLaren secrets revealed at its F1 shakedown

While the digital only event meant that no photographers could get a close up look at the car itself, McLaren was still taking no chances when it came to hiding bits that it did not want people to see.

Concealment has long been a tradition when F1 teams wheel out their latest challengers, with parts covered up, missing or it being fitted with those bearing little resemblance to the ones that were actually intended for racing.

The MCL35M’s unveiling was no different as it was noticeable how the diffuser area of the car had been properly hidden in the official images revealed the launch.

Luckily for us though, the team used up one of its promotional / filming days at Silverstone on Tuesday – so we got a proper chance to see some of the aspects of the car that were not visible first time out.

Here is what we found out…

 

Hopes of finding out these design secrets were initially dashed when the images coming out of Silverstone continued to deliberately obscure the relevant parts of the car.

Camera angles of moving images and photos were either strictly from the front or side. Or the video view deliberately blocked out close-ups from specific areas of the car as it left the pitlane.

But, luck was on our side in the end, as footage released by the team later on allowed us to capture sight of the key areas of interest – especially those that revolve around the new aero rules for 2021.

Read Also:

These changes are aimed at reducing downforce by approximately 10 percent and include a diagonal section of the floor cut out ahead of the rear tyres, with fully enclosed holes in the outer 100mm of the floor outlawed.

Furthermore, 40mm has been taken off the bottom half of the rear brake duct winglets and 50mm lopped off the bottom of the diffuser strakes.

 

Upon inspection of the MCL35M that took to the track at Silverstone, we can see it had a different bargeboard cluster, sidepod deflector array and a new floor.

The deflector array bears more of a resemblance with the one used by the team in the latter half of 2020 (below) but the forward most element now has just a small stay reaching down to the floor’s axehead (red arrow).

Here, another set of flow conditioning vanes have been sited. Meanwhile, the central bridging panel (blue) has been exchanged for a trio of slats similar to the ones already installed in the lower portion of the array.

It’s also worth noting how some small alterations have been made to the shape of the wing mirrors and their stalks (black arrow), which is indicative of design changes to the bargeboard elements below which must shadow them for legality purposes.

There appear to be other subtle changes to the bargeboards too, but we’ll have to wait for the car to roll out in testing to analyse those in full.

McLaren made subtle changes to the MCL35M's bargeboard area.

McLaren made subtle changes to the MCL35M's bargeboard area.

Moving to the rear of the car, the new diagonal cut-out is present in the floor as required by the regulations. This is a feature where McLaren were the first to test in the real world when it trialled a solution at the Belgian GP.

However, it’s another feature that’s been on and off the car during the course of 2020 that’s actually of key interest.

The Silverstone spec MCL35M had the raised L-shaped bodywork ahead of the rear tyre that was first tested all the way back at the first race of the season, at the Austrian GP.

The floor's trailing edge was curtailed by F1's 2021 regulations.

The floor's trailing edge was curtailed by F1's 2021 regulations.

This style of additional flap ahead of the rear tyre is likely to be a feature that’s used up and down the grid as teams look for ways to recover the performance lost by having the various slots and fully enclosed holes in the floor this year.  

Haas also trialled a similar solution in combination with a floor that had been trimmed back in Abu Dhabi, whereas Ferrari tried several different solutions mainly focused on the edge of the floor throughout the course of the season. 

Haas F1 Team VF-20 floor comparison
Ferrari SF1000 floor comparison, Abu Dhabi GP
shares
comments

Related video

Red Bull expects Perez to replicate Verstappen/Ricciardo era
Previous article

Red Bull expects Perez to replicate Verstappen/Ricciardo era

Next article

Williams F1 completes FW43B shakedown at Silverstone

Williams F1 completes FW43B shakedown at Silverstone
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021