F1 2022 "brute force" aero helping dial out McLaren weaknesses

McLaren says the "brute force" aero of Formula 1’s 2022 cars has helped iron out some negative characteristics that Daniel Ricciardo did not like last year.

F1 2022 "brute force" aero helping dial out McLaren weaknesses

Ricciardo endured a challenging 2021 campaign with McLaren as he struggled to get as comfortable with the handling of the Woking-based team’s car as team-mate Lando Norris.

While both squad and driver made a decent amount of progress over the course of the year, they still did not reach a point where they could think the problems had all been solved.

However, following the first test of the new ground effect F1 2022 cars, McLaren technical director James Key thinks the change of concept has wiped away some of the inherent weaknesses that emerged with his team's previous challengers.

Critical to this has been a step away from the aero detail of the old cars to a more simple platform where teams do not have as much freedom for complex designs.

PLUS: The changes edging McLaren closer to an F1 title challenge

“I would say overall, it's been maybe even an easier car to drive so far,” explained Key about the early verdict of the new McLaren.

“I think when you look at the way we're generating downforce, we've got massive sort of brute force items: a huge front wing, and a massive floor, which is very powerful.

“There is far less complexity above all that. And I think when you've got sort of the brute force aerodynamics, rather than the very refined fiddly aerodynamics we had last year, you're more likely to get a more stable working platform, because you're using big surfaces rather than fine detail.

“I think that's probably helped us a little bit in that respect, compared to last year. Overall, I would say we've taken a step in the right direction, but for sure, there's still some work to do.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The first test in Spain was an encouraging one for McLaren, with both Ricciardo and Norris posting competitive times in the new MCL36.

Key reckons that the team has managed to refine its package to get rid of major areas of concerns that had dominated its thoughts in recent years.

“I think where we've got to, is there are certainly McLaren traits, it does feel like a McLaren,” he said. “But it's not the extremes that we had before.

“We can see that strengths and weaknesses are beginning to emerge. And we're obviously looking at where we can try and improve the weaknesses, but I suspect the weaknesses, which are similar to everyone, like ride height sensitivity, is a factor for all teams.

“I think fundamentally, both drivers have kind of got on with the car okay, there's been no major concerns to date. But let's see how we go in Bahrain at a different track, and so on.”

Key said McLaren was aware of certain weaknesses its old car had – such as its performance in slower speed corners – but says the complexity of the old rules meant it was always hard to solve problems without triggering further issues.

“We could see in the data what strengths and weakness were,” he said.

“But given the complexity of these cars, particularly with the previous aerodynamics and setup options, there was no silver bullet. You had to develop your way out of them.

James Key, Technical Director, McLaren, on the pit wall

James Key, Technical Director, McLaren, on the pit wall

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“You could have had years of this kind of legacy behaviour going on, which would have knocked you back significantly on downforce to remove them.

“It is one of those horrible kind of trades where you inch towards it rather than jump towards it.

“Given the fresh opportunity of the new car, it was a good opportunity not to fall into the trap of having the negative behaviours, which we've been keeping a close eye on.

“It's not to say we've solved some of those things, but certainly with a new opportunity we were very aware of what we needed to work on.”

shares
comments

Related video

Drive to Survive S4 review: Essential viewing, but absences are felt
Previous article

Drive to Survive S4 review: Essential viewing, but absences are felt

Next article

The history book lessons behind F1’s new 2022 ideas

The history book lessons behind F1’s new 2022 ideas
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023
What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure Plus

What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure

Porsche whipped up a frenzy thanks to a cryptic social media post last week and, although it turned out to be a false alarm, it also highlighted why manufacturers remain such an important element in terms of the attraction that they bring to F1. It is little wonder that several other manufacturers are bidding for a slice of the action

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2023
Why the new Williams boss shouldn’t avoid ‘Mercedes B-team’ comparisons Plus

Why the new Williams boss shouldn’t avoid ‘Mercedes B-team’ comparisons

OPINION: Williams has moved to replace the departed Jost Capito by appointing former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles as its new team principal. But while he has sought to play down the idea of moulding his new squad into a vision of his old one, some overlap is only to be expected and perhaps shouldn't be shied away from

Formula 1
Jan 17, 2023