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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

McLaren pursues concept behind Red Bull’s F1 DRS supremacy

McLaren has unleashed a rear and beam wing revamp for Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix in a bid to close down Red Bull’s straightline and DRS advantage.

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

The Woking-based team has openly acknowledged that aero efficiency has been one of its core weaknesses this year – and this has often manifested itself in a lack of top speed. 

The squad has also been mindful that this is an area where Red Bull has been particularly strong, especially when its DRS is in use. 

But having understood where Red Bull’s DRS advantage comes from – which relates to the better balancing of drag levels between its beam and rear wing at the back of the car – McLaren has been pushing to find gains in this area too. 

For the Las Vegas event, McLaren has made the leap in adopting one of the key aspects that is understood to be behind Red Bull’s edge – which is in having a single beam wing. 

The use of a single beam wing, which works in conjunction with a more powerful main plane rear wing element, means that Red Bull’s DRS gains are much greater when the flap is open compared to other teams that run with double beam wings. 

But most teams have found themselves unable to trim back on their beam wing arrangements because, while that would improve drag levels, it also means a loss of downforce that they still need to help improve stability at the rear of the car. 

McLaren’s move suggests that it has confidence it can now get rid of its secondary beam wing without it impacting its car performance or driver confidence. 

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

Photo by: Filip Cleeren

McLaren MCL60 technical detail

As well as going to a single beam wing arrangement for Las Vegas, McLaren has also introduced a reprofiled rear wing flap that works in conjunction with it to help boost top speed. 

Speaking earlier this year, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella acknowledged that the shift of beam wing/rear wing relationship was something that Red Bull had put to brilliant use for a while 

"They seem to have pursued this concept for some time," explained Stella, when asked by Autosport if the beam wing approach was key to Red Bull’s DRS advantage. 

"So, I think they may be taking some advantage from having a lot of experience in developing this kind of configuration. I think this has now become apparent over time.   

"We are, I think all teams now, trying to see what is possible to exploit by developing this kind of direction."  

Alpine is another team that has made changes to its beam wing for Las Vegas, with its slat removed and the lower rear wing profile being reprofiled to reduce drag. 

The Enstone-based squad has also modified the trim of its inboard front wing segment to help achieve a better aero balance with the new arrangement at the rear. 

It has further moved to reduce drag by removing the rear brake drum upper flicks. 

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