McLaren targets low-speed performance in upgraded 2021 F1 car

McLaren is targeting improved low speed performance and a car less sensitive to gusty conditions with its 2021 Formula 1 challenger

McLaren targets low-speed performance in upgraded 2021 F1 car

The Woking-based outfit made good gains last year with its MCL35, and has high hopes that a switch to Mercedes power for this season will deliver a step forward in pace.

But beyond the power unit change, McLaren says a core focus for its efforts is to improve its car in two key areas.

Technical director James Key said that the team's 2020 machine was at its best on high-speed corners and when weather conditions were not too changeable.

"I think our strengths have been typically the high speed corners," he explained, speaking about what weaknesses were being addressed for this year.

"Certainly from the beginning of the season, we were very competitive in the medium and higher speed corners.

"Straight line braking has been another strength of ours as well, which benefited us on some tracks - like Austria for example.

"I think in terms of weaknesses, we still need to improve ourselves a bit in low speed. It's not quite as weak as it was [in 2019], and that was one of the big pushes to try and improve that low speed, balance and consistency that we had in certain types of low speed corners.

"Then, in some conditions, the car doesn't perform quite as well as we'd like it to - and that's in some weather conditions or some grip conditions, which we can kind of see in the data.

"We need to understand that actually, but it's not one of those overnight fixes. So that's what we're really targeting. I think if we can iron some of that out, we'll have a more consistent car from one race to the next."

Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris suffered at times last year in gusty conditions, as the MCL35 was susceptible to abrupt balance changes when the wind changed direction.

While getting to the bottom of the problem is not easy to work out through simulation, Key says McLaren has some understanding of what it needs to focus on to get on top of the characteristic with its 2021 MCL35M.

"It has been a bit of an issue for us," he explained. "We think we've pinned it down to one thing, which is just a characteristic of the car that we need to iron out.

"But with all these things, there's no silver bullet - you just have to work on it. But there is an element of probably being a bit more affected by it than others, positively as well as negatively, depending on the direction of the wind.

"Every car, of course, suffers from this. Our drivers have said they've seen cars ahead locking up and having troubles as well [when it is windy], so I think it affects everyone.

"But possibly on occasion, when it's been in the wrong direction or affected a certain corner a certain way, it has had a worst effect on us."

shares
comments
Wolff expects Hamilton to sign new Mercedes F1 deal despite "curveballs"
Previous article

Wolff expects Hamilton to sign new Mercedes F1 deal despite "curveballs"

Next article

What you need to know about F1 2021

What you need to know about F1 2021
Load comments
Explaining the key aspects of Porsche and Audi's planned F1 entries Plus

Explaining the key aspects of Porsche and Audi's planned F1 entries

The VW Group’s German superpowers of sportscar racing have all but confirmed they are coming to F1 when the next set of engine rules come into force in 2026. Here's why both manufacturers are all set to take the plunge, and crucially how it might work

Formula 1
May 19, 2022
How Vegas went from byword for F1 indifference to grand Liberty coup Plus

How Vegas went from byword for F1 indifference to grand Liberty coup

Holding a race in Las Vegas – party central, a city of dreams and decadence and, yes, more than a smattering of tackiness – has been on Liberty Media’s most-wanted list since it acquired Formula 1’s commercial rights. But, as LUKE SMITH explains, F1 has been here before and the relationship didn’t work out

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why de Vries' F1 practice debut could add a new path to his current crossroads Plus

Why de Vries' F1 practice debut could add a new path to his current crossroads

A Formula 2 and Formula E champion, Nyck de Vries is currently considering where his future in motorsport lies. Continuing in WEC and Formula E is possible and he's also courted glances Stateside after impressing in an IndyCar test. But ahead of his Formula 1 FP1 debut with Williams, he could have another option if he impresses...

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why Leclerc's historics crash shouldn't put off F1 drivers tasting history Plus

Why Leclerc's historics crash shouldn't put off F1 drivers tasting history

OPINION: For a demo run ahead of Monaco's Historique Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc was blessed with the opportunity to drive Niki Lauda's former Ferrari 312B3 - but a brake failure at Rascasse suggested Leclerc's Monaco hoodoo transcended contemporary F1. Although an awkward incident, Leclerc deserves credit for embracing F1's history

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why the lack of “needle” between Red Bull and Ferrari in F1 2022 is a mirage Plus

Why the lack of “needle” between Red Bull and Ferrari in F1 2022 is a mirage

OPINION: The fight for the 2022 Formula 1 world titles between Red Bull and Ferrari so far features little of the public animosity that developed between the former and Mercedes last year. But that isn’t to say things are full on friendly or won’t get much worse very quickly…

Formula 1
May 17, 2022
The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight Plus

The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight

The Toleman TG184 was the car that could, according to legend, have given Ayrton Senna his first F1 win but for Alain Prost and Jacky Ickx at Monaco in 1984. That could be stretching the boundaries of the truth a little, but as STUART CODLING explains, the team's greatest legacy was in giving the Brazilian prodigy passed over by bigger outfits an opportunity

Formula 1
May 16, 2022
Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes Plus

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes

Two famous manufacturer teams born out of humble midfield origins, splashing the cash while attempting to rise to the top of F1 in record time. There are clear parallels between Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin and the doomed Jaguar Racing project of 22 years ago, but MARK GALLAGHER believes struggling Aston can avoid a similar fate

Formula 1
May 15, 2022
How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo Plus

How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo

US-owned but until recently Russian-backed, Haas seems to have reached a turning point in car performance after three gruesome seasons. And it needs to if it’s to attract fresh investment. Team boss Gunther Steiner tells OLEG KARPOV how close Haas came to the abyss

Formula 1
May 14, 2022