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F1 tech review: McLaren reverses fortunes after poor start

McLaren came out of the blocks slowly in 2023 but made up serious ground on its rivals during the course of the season, with big update packages dropping in both Austria and Singapore.

Mclaren MCL60 technical detail

Uncredited

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

A regular stream of parts were added to the car throughout its campaign, so let’s take a detailed look at some of the MCL60’s finer details and those crucial upgrades in full.

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

A close up of the forward, scrolled section of the MCL60’s edge wing, with three strakes used to help control the passage of the airflow as it’s sent outboard. Also note the metal support brackets which are shaped and oriented to influence the airflow’s direction.


McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 detail

A look at the triple inlet pipework connected to the airbox that delivers cool air to the saddle cooler atop the power unit and to the internal combustion engine.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Under the brake drum cover there’s a collection of tracts used to deliver cool air to the various brake components.


McLaren MCL60 floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 floor comparison

McLaren made changes to its floor edge at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, shifting from a full-length edge wing to a shorter variant with the floor tapering thereafter. The rear portion of the floor around the cutout and the raised trailing edge were also amended.


McLaren MCL60 rear detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 rear detail

A bi-plane beam wing arrangement was utilised in Baku, with a slatted element placed further forward than the lower loaded element.


McLaren MCL60 front brake detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 front brake detail

The front brake duct without all the internal fairings in place gives us a view of the brake caliper and its fins and cutouts used to help manage temperatures.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

McLaren’s high downforce rear wing and beam wing combination for the Monaco Grand Prix.


McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 detail

A close up of the leading edge of the floor and the fences, including the inboard one which sits above the tide line.


McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 detail

The short, scrolled, edge wing section at the front of the MCL60’s floor


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Another angle, looking at the leading edge of the MCL60’s floor and the floor fences, of which the inboard one is isolated, as the other three sit in the outer boundary.


McLaren side comparison (Silverstone endplate Inset)

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren side comparison (Silverstone endplate Inset)

A significant update package arrived at the Austrian Grand Prix, with Lando Norris’ MCL60 outfitted with the new parts, while Oscar Piastri had to wait until the British Grand Prix for the overhauled layout. The revisions included a new floor fence arrangement [1] and a new sidepod inlet with a raised lower edge that also increased the size of the sidepod undercut [2].

The forward section of the floor was modified, with changes around the topside blister most noticeable but this clearly had an impact on the underfloor’s geometry [3]. The mirror and halo architecture were updated [4 & 5], whilst the shape and length of their downwash ramped sidepod bodywork was also updated [6 & 7].

This had a knock-on effect with the engine cover and cooling arrangements which both had to be modified as a consequence [8, 9 & 11]. Meanwhile, the rear floor cutout was removed and the floor's edge redesigned to suit [10].

They followed this up with an update to the front wing and endplate at the British Grand Prix (inset).


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

An overview of the new and old front wings with the new wing sporting the open-ended flap and endplate juncture (top).


McLaren MCL60 nose comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 nose comparison

The shape of the nose and how it interacted with the front wing was also modified for Silverstone.


McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 detail

The MCL60’s rear end detached from the rest of the car, with the metal framework of the mounting pillar, some of the inboard suspension details and the rear cooler.


McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 detail

The floor and bib section before being attached to the car, which gives us a great view of the floor fences.


McLaren MCL60 bodywork detail

Photo by: Roberto Chinchero

McLaren MCL60 bodywork detail

The internal bodywork baffles also work in conjunction with the cooling gills on the external bodywork.


McLaren MCL60 rear wing comparison Monza/Zandvoort

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 rear wing comparison Monza/Zandvoort

A new rear wing tip section arrived at the Dutch Grand Prix, which featured the open-ended arrangement that many of their rivals had already adopted. A closed endplate cutout panel featured at the Belgian Grand Prix, a design which had been used extensively by Mercedes during 2022 and 2023 (inset) but had its origins with Alpine in 2022.


McLaren MCL60 brake drum detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 brake drum detail

A look at the rear brake assembly without all the fairings in place provides some insight into how the cool air is delivered to the various components.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

A rare glimpse of the underside of the nose and front wing assembly.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Flo-viz paint doused over the rear wing and beam wing at the Italian Grand Prix, as the team looked for visual confirmation that they’re performing as expected.


McLaren MCL60 Singapore GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 Singapore GP

Another massive update package arrived at the Singapore Grand Prix, with changes made to the sidepod and engine cover bodywork to better incorporate the gullies that we’d seen from some of its rivals.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Jon Noble

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

A close up of the deeper gulley present in the ramped section of the MCL60’s sidepod.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Jon Noble

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Another angle showing off the new sidepod bodywork also gives a view of the revised edge wing design.


McLaren MCL60 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 rear wing detail

McLaren also introduced another variant of the open-ended tip section, with a much broader section used to increase the wing’s span, used by Norris.


McLaren MCL60 floor development

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 floor development

A new edge wing and floor was also installed on the MCL60, which once again elongated the edge wing, albeit it now tapered to the rear of the floor.


McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren MCL60 detail

McLaren utilised a Kiel probe rake below the rear wing in Mexico in order to capture data on the performance of the wing and the surrounding components.


McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Filip Cleeren

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

A low downforce rear wing and a bi-plane style beam wing was employed in Las Vegas.


Here’s the list of the components that McLaren listed as having changed in the car presentation document prior to each race.

  • Saudi Arabia
      • Rear wing
      • Diffuser
  • Australia
      • Engine cover slimmed
      • Floor fences
  • Azerbaijan
      • Floor
      • Rear wing
      • Beam wing
  • Miami
      • N/A
  • Monaco
      • Floor fences
      • FBD inlet scoop
      • RBD lower fence cutout
      • Rear wing
      • Beam wing
  • Spain
      • FBD winglets
  • Canada
      • Rear wing
      • Beam wing
  • Austria
      • Sidepod inlet
      • Mirrors
      • Halo
      • Floor fences, edge wing, underfloor and diffuser
      • Engine cover
      • Cooling louvres
  • Great Britain
      • Front wing
      • Nose
      • RBD winglets
      • Rear suspension fairings (toelink shroud)
  • Hungary
      • N/A
  • Belgium
      • Beam Wing
      • Rear Wing
      • RWEP
  • Netherlands
      • Beam wing
      • Rear wing
  • Italy
      • Front wing
      • Rear wing
      • FBD
      • RWEP (infill)
      • RBD winglets
  • Singapore
      • FWEP (outwash angle)
      • Sidepod inlet / mirror and stays
      • Halo furniture
      • Floor - fences, edge, diffuser etc
      • Engine cover
      • RBD winglets
      • Suspension fairings (toelink)
      • RWEP
      • Beam wing
  • Japan
      • Sidepod inlet packer
      • Beam Wing
  • Qatar
      • N/A
  • USA
      • N/A
  • Mexico
      • Larger front brake duct inlet scoop
      • Larger rear cooling outlet
  • Brazil
      • N/A
  • Las Vegas
      • Single element beam wing
      • Reprofiled rear wing
  • Abu Dhabi
    • N/A

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