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McLaren launch image trickery points to its 2024 F1 car secrets

Some intriguing trickery in the launch images of McLaren’s new Formula 1 car has hinted at one of the areas of “innovation” the team may be looking to keep secret.

McLaren MCL38 floor differences

McLaren

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.

While from initial looks the new MCL38 that was revealed on Wednesday morning appears to be a straight evolution of last year’s car, the team has hinted about there being some radical aspects to it.

In the press release quotes issued after the car images were made public, team principal Andrea Stella said: “There are a number of innovations on the car, but not all the areas we want to address have been completed for our launch-spec car.

“Those areas now become the focus of our in-season development, which is already in progress.”

No further details were offered about exactly what Stella was referring to, but close examination of the photos of the new MCL38 hint at it going the extra mile to keep one area closely guarded.

Focusing on the floor edge of the car, a clear difference can be seen in the side-on image of the 2024 challenger and the front three-quarters shot.

As can be seen in the main image, the side view has a notable warped scroll edge to help better utilise the airflow around the sidepod and floor area, while the more front-on shot features just a flat edge.

McLaren MCL38

McLaren MCL38

Photo by: McLaren

The change in floor design between the photos is clearly a deliberate move by the team in how the images were processed.

It is highly unlikely that the team would have taken one photograph with one floor, and then changed the floor to retake the car from another angle. So either the original photo was photoshopped afterwards to remove the detail, or the images are detailed renders that have been altered.

Either way, it suggests that McLaren did not want to give away too much detail about what it was doing with its floor in angles where some of its ideas could be better understood.

Stella’s earlier reference to some aspects of the car being a work in progress confirms what he said at the livery launch earlier this year.

Talking about the efforts that had gone in to understand some handling quirks that had been introduced through its major in-season development programme last year, Stella referenced there being some clever designs at play.

“There’s some…areas which I wouldn’t disclose just for a matter of protecting our IP, let’s say, but this was one of the priorities of the winter,” he said.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, in the team principals Press Conference

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

He explained that addressing the issues fully would take a bit of time into the 2024 campaign.

“Some of the benefits may be embedded onto the launch car, but actually some of the projects belong to a workstream that may land trackside with some other developments,” he said. “Some things require a few months to be addressed, let’s say.” 

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