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McLaren: Red Bull F1 car copycat claims are unfair

McLaren thinks it is unfair to claim that its big step forward in Formula 1 is the result of simply copying Red Bull.

The cars of Lando Norris, McLaren, pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Woking-based squad has made some impressive gains with its MCL60 after unleashing a raft of upgrades to its car since Austria last weekend.

The scale of its progress, which has resulted in Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri securing second and third on the grid at the British Grand Prix, has prompted some pointed remarks about its design being similar to Red Bull's RB19.

Lewis Hamilton said after qualifying: “If you just put it alongside a Red Bull, it looks very, very similar down the sides. It's working. It is great.”

But McLaren team principal Andrea Stella says that while the design does adopt some of the key philosophical elements of the Red Bull, it would be unfair to suggest it is just a straight copy.

“Every team takes inspiration from any other team,” said Stella. “Teams are equipped to try to absorb IP from looking at the photos, and from looking at the cars on display on Friday. So, you do take inspiration from the other cars.

“But taking inspiration, or even looking at the photo, doesn't mean that you copy the geometry, you install it in your CFD runs in the computer simulation or in the wind tunnel, and then the car lights up in terms of downforce.

“Normally what happens is it [the performance] goes down, because your car is already optimised around what you have done up until that point.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, into the pit lane

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, into the pit lane

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Rather than directly copying others, Stella said that what teams needed to do was take on board others' outline concepts to then work out how they can open up development paths for their own car.

“The key element is understanding that some concepts have more potential that will allow you to develop faster and for longer,” added Stella.

“And here is where you need to have the right people at the right place. I would like to mention one name here, Peter Prodromou, who is leading the aerodynamic development at McLaren.

“He is doing an exceptional job in terms of setting the conceptual direction, but also having organised and having inspired the entire aerodynamic group.”

While incidents like the Red Bull floor being revealed at the Monaco Grand Prix have helped other teams understand more about what F1’s benchmark team is doing, Stella says that of greater importance is understanding why certain designs have been created in that way.

“I'm sure all teams got inspiration from looking at the Red Bull car, like they get inspiration from all the photos that teams get off any other car,” he added.

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“Pretty much all teams have professional photographers that take as much opportunity [to get pictures] as possible, and this is inspiration.

“I would detract off our aerodynamic department if I said: ‘Oh, yeah, we saw that and now we have the solution.’

“You see it and you get some thoughts that maybe you can do this. But then you have to do your own job with your own iteration, otherwise you don't get to something that actually works.”

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