McLaren "surprised" F1 rivals didn't adopt diffuser trick

McLaren is surprised no other Formula 1 team adopted its clever diffuser design, but doesn’t think it will take long for rivals to copy it.

McLaren "surprised" F1 rivals didn't adopt diffuser trick

As revealed by Motorsport.com last weekend, the Woking-based team emerged in pre-season testing in Bahrain with a unique diffuser solution that tries to claw back some of the losses triggered by new aero rules.

For while the height of diffuser strakes has been trimmed by 50mm this year, McLaren has cleverly extended the floor transition in a central area not limited by this restriction to allow it to run deeper fins.

McLaren technical director James Key has insisted the design is not trying to exploit a loophole in the rules, and instead says his team has implemented what he thinks is a ‘straightforward’ concept.

“It is a normal design idea, and actually I think we are a bit surprised that maybe we're the only team with that,” explained Key.

“It's just one feature of many in an area which changed for this year. You've got a certain regulation of a continuous surface in that area within the Y250 position, either side of the centreline of the car. Those little vortex generators down there which you see as well on pretty much every car now, these little aluminium or carbon parts are actually governed by de facto the same rule. So it's fairly straightforward.

“You need the CAD screen to see it, because you're taking cross sections of a 3D surface, so it's fair to question I suppose when it's difficult to tell without that CAD data to prove it's within the boxes it should be in and to prove it's a continuous surface. But that's really all it is.”

Diffuser regulations for 2020 vs 2021

Diffuser regulations for 2020 vs 2021

Read Also:

McLaren’s rivals will almost certainly be evaluating how much benefit there is to being able to run the two longer diffuser strakes in that region, with Key suspecting others could follow suit in the early stages of the season.

“I think the first port of call with any idea you see out there is CFD, so I think you can jump on an idea that you spot on another team within a week easily nowadays,” he explained. “I guess if there's still interest after a week, whether it's our diffuser or Mercedes' edge of floor detail or whatever it is, I think you can get a feel for things quite quick.

“Then it's really understanding how it works with your car. That's the key to this. You can then end up with a unique geometry of your own because you might understand the principle, but then you have to adapt it accordingly that it works with your car. The diffuser situation for example is also very stable in that environment as well.

“So you'd probably therefore wind tunnel test it, which might be a week or two down the line, and then you've got to manufacture it. These particular steps are pretty straightforward. So you could say between three and five weeks between taking the picture and putting it on the car if you really wanted to push this through.”

Key was full of praise for McLaren’s aero department though, in having first spotted the way the design could be incorporated for 2021.

“I think it's always nice for a team to come up with an idea which is unique and the credit fully goes to our aero department and the guys in the rear aero group for realising that there was an opportunity there to use the new regulations in such a way,” he said.

“I suppose it's one of the visible things which gets talked about a lot, but ultimately it's just a bit of a much wider picture of a complex part of the back of the car. I'm sure it'll be forgotten by the time we get back here in a couple of weeks' time.”

McLaren MCL35M diffuser detail

McLaren MCL35M diffuser detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

shares
comments

Related video

How Red Bull 'won' the F1 2021 winter testing war

Previous article

How Red Bull 'won' the F1 2021 winter testing war

Next article

The DRS trick behind Tsunoda’s standout Bahrain laptimes

The DRS trick behind Tsunoda’s standout Bahrain laptimes
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Bahrain March testing
Teams McLaren
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash Prime

Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas' collision at Imola on Sunday prompted fury in the Formula 1 paddock. But Russell's carefully-worded heartfelt statement later, acknowledging that his initial response was wrong, proved the right move

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for 2021 Prime

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for 2021

In Max Verstappen's Formula 1 career to date, he has been cast as the 'pretender', an acknowledged top-line performer without the car to regularly challenge Lewis Hamilton. But that no longer applies in 2021, and the start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the most telling signal yet of what we can expect from their duel this year

Formula 1
Apr 21, 2021
How "overwhelming" McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Prime

How "overwhelming" McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Prime

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments.

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Prime

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Prime

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Prime

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021