Formula 1
Formula 1
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
Race in
42 days
R
Portuguese GP
02 May
Race in
56 days
09 May
Next event in
59 days
23 May
Race in
77 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
91 days
13 Jun
Race in
98 days
27 Jun
Race in
112 days
04 Jul
Next event in
115 days
18 Jul
Race in
133 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
147 days
29 Aug
Race in
175 days
05 Sep
Race in
182 days
12 Sep
Race in
189 days
26 Sep
Race in
203 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
206 days
10 Oct
Race in
216 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
231 days
31 Oct
Race in
238 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
258 days
R
Saudi Arabia GP
05 Dec
Race in
273 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
280 days
Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

The 10 things that set McLaren's new car apart from the old

While McLaren’s new MCL35M is very different under the skin thanks to new Mercedes power, many were left struggling to spot big changes compared to its 2020 Formula 1 challenger.

The 10 things that set McLaren's new car apart from the old

But a closer examination of the details of the team’s new car has highlighted some fascinating design tweaks that McLaren hopes will allow it to close the gap on Red Bull and Mercedes ahead.

Here, Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield take a look at the ten design features that set the new car apart from its MCL35 predecessor.

  1. McLaren introduced a new nose at Mugello last season, moving to a concept more akin to the one used by Mercedes and subsequently adopted by other teams. The MCL35M continues to carry the new design, but the cape and turning vanes have been altered to better feed airflow down the car.
  2. During 2020, McLaren made several changes to the bargeboard cluster and sidepod deflectors, many of which feature in this year's design. This overhead comparison shot of last year’s car doesn’t do this area justice but it’s fair to say, as McLaren brings changes for the first race, that further tweaks will be on the horizon before the car even turns a wheel in anger.
  3. The yellow line marked on the image shows how much narrower the MCL35M’s sidepods are when compared with last year’s car. McLaren has made every effort to slim this area of the car down to improve the airflow’s transit around the car’s midriff.
  4. The Mercedes-AMG M12 powerunit has different cooling demands when compared with the Renault E-Tech 20. As a consequence, along with some repackaging of the radiators and associated ancillaries, the cooling layout has been altered. The louvred panel beside the cockpit is larger than before, but it’s also more contoured to suit the shape of the sidepod which now falls away more abruptly. Meanwhile, the roll hoop and airbox have been reconfigured, with the lower inlet, which was required to be bigger to meet the demands of the Renault powerunit, being made smaller. This has allowed McLaren to appropriate the Mercedes style large oval airbox shaping, with a triangular spar arrangement.
  5. The overall shape of the sidepods, including the bulge midway along its surface, have been recontoured to take advantage of the different powerunit architecture. Something as simple as a different positioning for the exhausts can make a significant difference to how tight the bodywork can cling to it.
  6. The floor’s design is significantly different for 2021 with the diagonal cutout a requirement of the new regulations which intend to reduce downforce by approximately 10 percent.
  7. The fully enclosed holes in the outer 100mm of the floor that had become a feature of all of the cars since 2017 have been outlawed for 2021. This includes holes made in the floor in the forward section that had been used to help set up flow structures that ‘sealed’ the edge of the floor.
  8. The diagonal cutout will have a dramatic effect on how the aerodynamicists deal with the wake turbulence created by the rear tyre and its impact on the diffuser. Teams will make changes on the edge of the floor just ahead of the tyre to try and influence this, as seen here as McLaren has rolled up the edge.
  9. The previous generation of floor and the regulations surrounding it gave the designers headroom to use a combination of slots, fully enclosed holes and fins to influence the flow around the rear tyre. These have now gone.
  10. In order to accommodate the Mercedes powerunit, the wheelbase of the car has also been lengthened slightly. This will have an impact on numerous aspects of the car's behaviour, including suspension kinematics and aerodynamics. As we know, a longer wheelbase has been profitable for Mercedes in recent years, so there’s no reason to suggest the same won’t be the case for McLaren, if it continues to run with a little more rake.

McLaren MCL35M front detail

McLaren MCL35M front detail
1/8

Photo by: McLaren

McLaren MCL35M front wing detail

McLaren MCL35M front wing detail
2/8

Photo by: McLaren

McLaren MCL35 nose comparison

McLaren MCL35 nose comparison
3/8

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL35M detail

McLaren MCL35M detail
4/8

Photo by: McLaren

McLaren MCL35M side pods and air box detail

McLaren MCL35M side pods and air box detail
5/8

Photo by: McLaren

McLaren MCL35M rear wing detail

McLaren MCL35M rear wing detail
6/8

Photo by: McLaren

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M
7/8

Photo by: McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
8/8

Photo by: McLaren

shares
comments

Related video

Why AlphaTauri is raving about its under-the-radar rookie

Previous article

Why AlphaTauri is raving about its under-the-radar rookie

Next article

Chris Craft: One-time F1 starter and sportscar ace dies

Chris Craft: One-time F1 starter and sportscar ace dies
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams McLaren
Author Giorgio Piola
The updates Williams hopes will lead to a point-scoring return Prime

The updates Williams hopes will lead to a point-scoring return

After producing a car which demonstrated progress but lacked the points to prove it last year, Williams starts its new era of team ownership with the FW43B, its bid to continue the climb up the Formula 1 grid in 2021

Formula 1
Mar 5, 2021
How Ferrari plans to recover from its 2020 F1 nightmare Prime

How Ferrari plans to recover from its 2020 F1 nightmare

The 2020 Formula 1 season was Ferrari's worst for 40 years as it slumped to sixth in the standings. A repeat performance will not be acceptable for the proud Italian team, which has adopted a notably pragmatic approach to forging its path back to the top

Formula 1
Mar 4, 2021
Why Aston Martin’s arrival is more than just new green livery Prime

Why Aston Martin’s arrival is more than just new green livery

In the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 team launch of the season, the rebranded Aston Martin squad’s changes go much further than the striking paint job. But rather than a restart, the team hopes to build on top of solid foundations.

Formula 1
Mar 3, 2021
The car Aston Martin begins its new F1 journey with Prime

The car Aston Martin begins its new F1 journey with

The team formerly known as Racing Point gambled successfully on a Mercedes look-alike in 2020 as it mounted a strong challenge for third in the constructors' race and won the Sakhir GP. Now clothed in British racing green, Aston Martin's first Formula 1 challenger since 1960 provides the clearest indicator yet of what to expect from the new-for-2021 regulations

Formula 1
Mar 3, 2021
The tricky driver conundrums facing Mercedes in F1 2021 Prime

The tricky driver conundrums facing Mercedes in F1 2021

Ahead of the new Formula 1 season, reigning world champions Mercedes will take on challenges both old and new. This also can be said for its driver conundrum which could become key to sustaining its ongoing success...

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
How Alpine's cure to 2021 F1 rules starts at the front Prime

How Alpine's cure to 2021 F1 rules starts at the front

A new name, new faces and new colours pulls the rebranded Alpine Formula 1 team into a new era while carrying over core elements of its 2020 car. But under the surface there's more than meets the eye with the A521 which hints at how the team will tackle 2021...

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
Can Mercedes' W12 retain the team's crown? Prime

Can Mercedes' W12 retain the team's crown?

Replacing Formula 1's fastest car was never going to be an easy feat for Mercedes. Amid the technical rule tweaks to peg back the W12 and its 2021 rivals, the new Mercedes challenger will remain the target to beat

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era Prime

The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era

Ferrari is starting its post-Sebastian Vettel age by welcoming Carlos Sainz in alongside Charles Leclerc. But while Sainz has a tough challenge to match his new teammate, Ferrari is also sending a message that previous intra-team spats must end

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021