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Formula 1 Austrian GP

McLaren brings new F1 front wing to further lift low-speed gains

McLaren's push to close in further on Max Verstappen continues at Formula 1's visit to the Red Bull Ring

McLaren MCL38 front wing endplate comparison

McLaren MCL38 front wing endplate comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

McLaren is one of the few teams to bring upgrades to Formula 1's Austrian Grand Prix, after revealing a new front wing and suspension fairings.

The primary function of these modifications revolves around McLaren looking to improve what it considers to be an imbalance in the performance of its MCL38 in both low and high-speed corners.

Speaking about the aim of the improvements, team boss Andrea Stella said: "The focus is to keep the development direction that we introduced to the trackside with the front wing we took to Miami.

"We saw that that concept worked well, so we wanted to pursue this direction further. And this is another attempt to improve, I would say, in particular, the low-speed behaviour of the car."

The changes to the wing include some subtle geometrical adjustments made to the flaps across their span, in order to better present the airflow to those suspension elements downstream.

However, the bulk of the changes have been made to the outboard portion of the wing and the endplate, as the team looks to alter the wing's outwash characteristics.

The shape of the leading and trailing edges of the endplate have been altered quite significantly, with a gentler curvature preferred over the sharp-edged variant of their former design (green dotted line).

There are also some adjustments made to the endplate's camber, not only to suit the other new design characteristics that have been altered but also in order to leverage the diveplane's attributes.

The flap tips, which were already of the semi-detached variety, have also been optimised. They're now more flared to aid in generating outwash, while the rearmost element has been extended and falls in line with the modified trailing edge of the endplate (red arrow).

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The battle to find a car that performs well at both low and high speed is not something unique to McLaren, with Stella saying it is a limitation that has been imposed by the current regulations.

"Especially with this generation of car, and this generation of front wing regulations, the geometries are very restricted," he said.

"It's very difficult to achieve what you want at low speed, what you want in a straight line or what you want at high speed.

"This is a challenge that I'm sure all teams are facing, and that's also why it's also quite difficult to bring development on a front wing.

"Hopefully the compromise we're working on is capable of delivering some low-speed benefits, but without affecting the high-speed or the straight line too negatively."

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The tweaks made to the suspension fairings, which are minor, have been introduced purely to help a different airflow coming off the front wing.

"It's just the shrouds because when you change the front wing, it changes slightly the flow that goes to the back of the car," he said.

"And so you need to optimise the components downstream for this slight variation in the floor topology. This is very normal.

"I see more and more that when teams bring front wing upgrades, they always upgrade the brake ducts and suspension shrouds. It is purely aerodynamics."

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