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Formula 1 Miami GP

How McLaren has left no stone unturned with its Miami F1 update

McLaren has its first major update package of the season at Formula 1's Miami Grand Prix, and it has comprehensively refined almost every aerodynamic surface in a bid to find performance.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

For its debut weekend, the entire suite of new parts has been fitted to Lando Norris' MCL38, while Oscar Piastri will have to wait until Imola to see the full advantages on offer, as only half of the new components have been installed on his machine.

The changes made aren't new or revolutionary, with the team opting to make subtle alterations to a range of components so that they all complement one another and increase performance across the car's entire aerodynamic map.

McLaren MCL38 front wing comparison

McLaren MCL38 front wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

This obviously starts with the front wing, with the most significant change made to the shape of the mainplane. The central section now has a much wider and squarer profile than before, while a more acute transition into the outboard sections has been employed (red arrows).

Consequently, there are also changes in the chord distribution of the upper flaps across their span, while the non-moveable inboard sections have also been revised.

To take advantage of the changes made to the front wing, the front suspension's geometry and fairings have been altered too, with their angle of incidence changed and their geometry across their span also amended (see blue arrow, for example).

Meanwhile, the front brake duct and winglets have also been fettled to leverage performance from the changes upstream and help nudge the airflow to the surfaces that have been adjusted downstream.

McLaren MCL38 technical detail
McLaren MCL38 technical detail

As you'd expect, given it has been an area of considerable focus of these regulations, McLaren has made the biggest changes to the MLC38's floor, sidepod bodywork and engine cover.

The sidepods follow the trend under these regulations of finding aerodynamic performance from the trade-off of reducing the size of the inlet and using that to reconfigure and increase the size of the undercut.

This has the knock-on effect of enabling changes to be made to the shape of the sidepod's flank, which narrows the bodywork in the mid-line cutout and creates more of a high-waisted arrangement further down the length of the bodywork.

Meanwhile, complementary changes have also been made to the floor and edge wing alongside, while there are undoubtedly changes beneath the surface that are out of view.

The alterations made to the sidepod's inlet are accompanied by subtle changes to the mid-wing above the inlet, as it has been extended forward when compared with the previous specification.

The waterslide channel on the upper surface of the sidepod bodywork has now been pushed further back down the rear ramp section, as a flatter profile is preferred up front.

McLaren MCL38 technical detail

McLaren MCL38 technical detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Changes are also afoot at the rear of the car, as the team has altered the shape of the engine cover around the shelf section, while also adding a new louvre panel variant into its cooling arsenal.

These new, taller louvres work further down the side of the bodywork and have a pretty specific shape in the lower section to help reject the heat in a more desirable manner.

Similar to the changes made to the suspension fairings and brake ducts at the front of the car, McLaren has made adjustments at the rear too, with a view to taking advantage of the new output being generated upstream.

McLaren MCL38 technical detail

McLaren MCL38 technical detail

Photo by: Filip Cleeren

There's also a new beam wing configuration in Miami, as the team has just a single element that's more offloaded at the outer end in order to reduce drag on a circuit that demands more efficiency.

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