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McLaren had to ‘question quite a lot’ designing F1 car under cost cap

McLaren was forced to “question quite a lot” in the design of its new MCL36 Formula 1 car for 2022 due to the limitations of the budget cap.

McLaren MCL36 details

2022 marks the start of a new technical era for F1 following a significant overhaul of the regulations, forcing teams to rethink many of their existing processes.

An additional challenge has been the presence of the budget cap, which was introduced last year at $145m and will drop to $140m this year.

The 2022 car is the first to have been fully designed under the restrictions of the budget cap after the freeze in the regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic meant last year’s cars were largely carried over from 2020.

Speaking ahead of the launch of McLaren’s new F1 car on Friday, team principal Andreas Seidl explained how the impact of the budget cap led to every process being questioned in the design and production of the MCL36.

"The big challenge obviously getting ready for this new season was to develop a completely new car under completely new technical regulations from scratch, in parallel to the cost cap being in place for the first time last year,” Seidl explained.

“It meant we had to question quite a lot. A lot of things we were used to from the past in terms of approach, in terms of how to manufacture parts as well, how to design them, in order to make manufacturing simpler for example, using cheaper materials where possible.

“There was a big rethink going on in terms of the number of parts that you want to produce per specification, which brought a lot of new aspects to many ways that we were doing things in the past.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: McLaren

McLaren has already changed its approach to parts production, opting for a leaner approach to give it more flexibility for updates. The team is planning to bring an update package to the opening race of the year in Bahrain after pre-season testing. 

The overhaul of the aerodynamic regulations and return of ground effect for this year is targeted at improving wheel-to-wheel racing and reducing the loss in downforce when following another car.

McLaren technical director James Key explained at the launch that it was “the biggest change we’ve ever seen on the chassis side” and a “really fundamental change”.

“We’ve got [new 18-inch] tyres, and the regulations in the background,” Key said.

“We often talk about how the sport is regulated technically but that’s all changed as well.

“[There are] new safety measures, which aren’t often touched on, but that’s changed quite considerably for these cars, and also all the visible side with the aerodynamics and so on.

“It’s definitely a blank sheet of paper in a lot of places.”

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