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
The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline Plus

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

In the hands of Ayrton Senna the actively suspended 99T would be the last F1 race-winning Lotus but, as STUART CODLING reveals, it was a complicated machine that caused more problems than it solved

Formula 1
Feb 5, 2023
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Formula 1
Feb 4, 2023
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023