F1 McLaren is betting on aggressive development on the 2022 car

F1 McLaren is betting on aggressive development on the 2022 car

After cementing his return to the podium and even winning twice last year, McLaren launches the 2022 car looking to take another step towards title contention, something that has not happened in eleven years for the traditional teams. Formula 1. For the second season in a row, the team has Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, who announced the extension of his contract until 2025 this week, and is betting on the continuity of the management that has been rebuilding the team.

The team has already warned that this launch car will not be the same that will be on the track in the first race of the year, the Bahrain GP, ​​on March 20. That is because the choice was for an aggressive development program, with several modifications planned. Even if that means Norris and Ricciardo will have fewer spares on hand. “I think the way we work with the engineers will be more important because it will be a development race as well,” says Norris, who is in his fourth season with McLaren and F1.

The car has some interesting solutions. The most noticeable is the change to the double suspension: McLaren was expected to return to using front strut suspension to clean up the airflow. But the MCL36 also reversed, which was a pull rod and is now a push rod. The difference is the position of one of the suspension arms and the choice is primarily aerodynamic. In the mechanical part of the suspension performance, there is no significant difference.

But McLaren technical director James Key is confident that the move is the best solution to comply with the new F1 rules. “That will be very obvious when the cars hit the track – and it’s not something you can easily copy! It will be interesting to see who else does it. I saw that the Aston Martin car is the opposite. [pull rod na traseira e push rod na dianteira, como todos usavam até o ano passado].”

Key cites the Aston Martin because it’s the only real car we’ve seen so far. Haas showed computer graphics that reflected the early stage of development, and Red Bull showed its advertising on a demo car. Next week, we should see the cars of AlphaTauri, Williams, Mercedes and Ferrari (the rest of which should pass the front drag stick).

It was also possible to see at the launch there was a much smaller side section than that of the Aston Martin, but the interpretation of the front wing is the same, and the first blade is stuck to the second, and not on the nose itself, though. and a different structure. What was well covered not only in the publicity photos but also in the live performance was the background. Seen from above, this clearer display seems to direct air into the beam wing, and it’s something Red Bull has used in the past. But the details of the diffuser and the floor were missing, which are very important in the 2022 rules, and which all teams should try to hide as much as possible.

Norris and Ricciardo need a really tough car to shine in 2022

Although the 2022 regulations are completely new, the engineers’ intent was to disrupt last year’s car, whose performance fluctuated greatly depending on the type of track. And it also became a difficult car to get right, which was made clear by the difficulties that Ricciardo, who joined the team at the beginning of last year, had to adapt to.

It is no coincidence, at the launch of the new car, Ricciardo emphasized the need to listen more to the car to take advantage of the advantage he has over Norris, the experience of having a major change of regulations in 2014, when F1 changed. V6 turbo hybrids. At that time, he was teammates with Sebastian Vettel, who had won the championship four times in a row, and passed the German. “I’m sure some behavior of the car will be expected and some will not be expected. So it’s a matter of understanding how to make the car work well. So I will drive mainly in testing, intelligently. you know, but also experiment to see what the car likes. And during The season must be consistently higher than last year.”

The team is in fourth place, having been overtaken by Ferrari in the latter part of the championship, largely due to an engine update that should also help the Scuderia’s performance in 2022. Another negative for McLaren is the fact that this 2022 car has been it was made with an old wind tunnel, as the new equipment was not ready in time. And, if they feel the need to update something that weighs heavily on their budget, it’s because they understand that the current one is no longer as accurate as they want. And the same goes for the simulator, which is also being changed.

McLaren has been on the rise since the arrival of Zak Brown

zak - Dan Mullan/Getty Images - Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, is responsible for changing the mindset of the team

Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

On the other hand, the foundations for reviving a team that has not won a championship since Lewis Hamilton’s drivers’ championship in 2008 are well established. When American Zak Brown took over as CEO of McLaren, the team had finished second to last in the 2017 championship and looked lost. He was responsible for changing the attitude of the company, which helped the team to solve its problems instead of believing that it has a great car and that it did not win the championship for external reasons – the most famous of them, the Honda engine, with which Red Bull was the driver’s champion last year.

In addition, Brown found the professionals he hired for key roles in the right technical area. The big hit was the hiring of Andreas Seidl to become the head of McLaren. The German built the design with James Key leading technical decisions, Piers Thynne leading production and factory operations, and Andrea Stella running the team at the races, all reporting to him.

This 2022 regulatory change may not be the one that will bring McLaren back to the glory days of the 1980s and late 1990s and 2000s, due to an update that has yet to be done at the factory. But it is undeniable that the team did not finish the last three championships in the top four by chance.

In relation to its direct rivals, the team has two possible advantages: it can spend more time in the wind tunnel and computer calls to develop the car at least in the first half of the year, because of its position in the 2022 championship, which sets the preference for each team. And, of the big four, McLaren was the one that worked closest to the budget ceiling, which was passed last year and which is 140 million dollars in 2022.