Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

F1 2022 tech review: How McLaren coped with the 'aftershock' of its early woes

McLaren had hoped to make some solid progress in the first year of Formula 1's new rules era.

F1 2022 tech review: How McLaren coped with the 'aftershock' of its early woes

However, it all went very wrong at the start as brake problems in pre-season testing and the opening round in Bahrain left it struggling for pace. While it managed to make a recovery, the team openly admitted that the 'aftershock' of the Sakhir troubles was felt for months.

Tracking McLaren's car development, it was clear progress was not as quick as it had perhaps hoped because resources were focused on problem-solving.

Nevertheless, there were some encouraging performances throughout.

McLaren MCL36 front wing detail

McLaren MCL36 front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The MCL36's nose and front wing assembly saw the mainplane set forward from the nose tip and arched downward in the central section (red arrow).

McLaren MCL36 tunnel entrance and bib

McLaren MCL36 tunnel entrance and bib

Photo by: McLaren

The initial floor layout of the MCL36 featured a sidewall for the tunnel entrance that was displaced from the side of the chassis (red arrows), creating a central furrow for the centreline airflow to make its way topside. This obviously reduced the width of the underfloor tunnel entrances but McLaren clearly felt this novel approach could bear fruit.

McLaren MCL36 front brake comparison

McLaren MCL36 front brake comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Having set the pace, relatively speaking, at the first test/shakedown in Barcelona, McLaren immediately struggled when it arrived in Bahrain thanks to a brake issue.

It quickly became apparent that the internal disc brake fairing it plumbed for wasn't able to cater for the higher temperatures, and a temporary fix had to be employed. The metal version of the fairing remained in place for several races thereafter too, as the team worked on a long-term solution.

Ferrari F1-75 and McLaren MCL36 floor comparison

Ferrari F1-75 and McLaren MCL36 floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

 

McLaren's edge wing solution was also under the spotlight in Barcelona, as some questioned its legality, even though it was well within the bounds of the new regulations. The elongated L-shaped floor appendage was quickly copied by Ferrari too, as it saw the merits of the design.

McLaren MCL36 floor

McLaren MCL36 floor

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The floor's edge was one of constant evolution for all of the teams, with McLaren having extended its edge wing forward and added three flow-diverting strikes to the now scrolled forward section in readiness for the first race.

McLaren MCL36 rear brake winglet comparison

McLaren MCL36 rear brake winglet comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

A small change was made to the rear brake duct's lower winglet fence at the Australian Grand Prix as the team looked to optimise the airflow's passage.

McLaren MCL36 rear detail

McLaren MCL36 rear detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To better suit the characteristics of the Imola circuit, the team trimmed the beam wing element

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Changes were made to the front suspension fairing in Miami, as the team looked to optimise the airflow's passage. It used flow-vis paint as a means to get visual confirmation that its changes had been effective.

McLaren MCL36 bargeboard detail

McLaren MCL36 bargeboard detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A metal stay was also added to the rear portion of the floor, just ahead of the rear tyre, to help with any adverse flexion.

McLaren MCL36 front brakes

McLaren MCL36 front brakes

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The long-term fix for McLaren's front brake disc fairing issues arrived at the Spanish Grand Prix as part of its first big update package of the season. The new variant utilised a much larger fairing and saw the pipework feeding the caliper revised, whilst the inlet was also altered to better facilitate the requirements of the new set-up.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The new package included a high downforce rear wing, seen here with the DRS open, which you'll note has a central and outboard metal snubbers to prevent the wing from returning too far when closed.

Mclaren MCL36 side detail

Mclaren MCL36 side detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Changes were also made to the floor fences, sidepod profile and engine cover bodywork as the team looked to improve flow over the car.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

A rearward action shot of the MCL36 showing off the high downforce rear wing, whilst changes were also made to the diffuser as part of the update package.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The front and rear wings were trimmed for Baku in order to reduce downforce and drag around the high-speed venue.

McLaren MCL36 rear wing

McLaren MCL36 rear wing

Another rear wing variant was introduced for the Canadian Grand Prix, seen here with flow-vis paint applied in order that the team can identify it was performing as anticipated.

McLaren MCL36 floor stay mounting comparison

McLaren MCL36 floor stay mounting comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The position of the floor stay was also altered as the team continued to search for improvements with the way in which the floor flexed.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

A trimmed version of its rear wing featured at Silverstone, where you'll also note the blue paint was removed as the team continued to look for ways to reduce the car's weight.

McLaren MCL36 rear detail

McLaren MCL36 rear detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A revised leading edge on the rear wing's endplate and the rear brake duct scoop was modified for the Austrian Grand Prix.

McLaren MCL36 comparison

McLaren MCL36 comparison

The biggest update package of McLaren's season to date came at the French Grand Prix, when the team switched sidepod concept for something more along the lines of what we'd seen from Red Bull.
The new package (lower image) featured a ramped style solution, which graduated down into the coke bottle region, rather than tapering inwards towards the engine cover.

McLaren MCL36 technical detail

McLaren MCL36 technical detail

Photo by: Luke Smith

The paint diet that the MCL36 had already been on was taken to another level with this update too, as paint wasn't applied wherever possible without entirely destroying the intent of the team's livery.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The new sidepod and engine cover bodywork also resulted in a much larger cooling gill panel being at the team's disposal.

McLaren MCL36 floor

McLaren MCL36 floor

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The underfloor is a critical performance factor under the new regulations and it's clear that McLaren spent a great deal of its resources here trying to improve this area. You'll note the aforementioned edge wing design [2], with the flow diverting strikes towards the front of the assembly [3].

Meanwhile, McLaren, like others, opted for a stepped boat tail section [1], rather than a fully tapered one, in order to improve consistency across different rideheight profiles.

McLaren MCL36 detail

McLaren MCL36 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A close-up of the enlarged cooling gill panel favoured by McLaren as part of its update in France.

McLaren MCL36 detail

McLaren MCL36 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A close-up of the scrolled forward portion of the edge wing, of which the number of flow diverting strikes had been increased to five, whilst their contours were also more pronounced.

McLaren MCL36 rear detail

McLaren MCL36 rear detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A new diffuser and rear wing design were unveiled in Belgium, albeit the latter of those wasn't raced.

McLaren MCL36 rear wing Belgian GP

McLaren MCL36 rear wing Belgian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A front view of the rear wing with the central section of the upper flap trimmed back.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, with aero paint applied

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, with aero paint applied

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

As you'd expect, McLaren had a low downforce offering for Monza, seen here with flow-vis paint on the upper elements, beam wing and diffuser as the team sought visual confirmation they were all working as anticipated.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

In order to balance the car front-to-rear, the front wing elements were also relaxed and trimmed to suit the rear wing in use.

McLaren sidepods details

McLaren sidepods details

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren continued to optimise its sidepod layout, with another update arriving at the Singapore Grand Prix that followed the Red Bull scheme once more. The fully open-top design used by Red Bull wasn't used but the new design certainly headed more in that direction.

McLaren MCL36 rear suspension

McLaren MCL36 rear suspension

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Extra winglets were added into the stack on the rear brake duct for the Mexican Grand Prix, increasing local load.

McLaren MCL36 rear suspension

McLaren MCL36 rear suspension

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Another angle showcasing the extra winglets mounted on the rear brake duct outlet.

McLaren MCL36 centreline cooling slots

McLaren MCL36 centreline cooling slots

To help with the temperature and altitude, McLaren added some more centreline cooling apertures to the spine of the engine cover.

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