Why McLaren has abandoned its original sidepod concept

McLaren is the latest team to abandon its launch sidepod solution as the Formula 1 grid appears to be converging on similar designs.

Why McLaren has abandoned its original sidepod concept

As part of a revised package of parts introduced for the French Grand Prix, McLaren has moved much closer to the direction seen on the lead pairing of Red Bull and Ferrari.

Prior to the French Grand Prix, McLaren had been somewhere in the middle ground of teams in this area.

Aston Martin was originally at one extreme opting for the high waisted sidepod solution, whilst Williams and Mercedes had gone (initially at least) for a very short, quickly tapering arrangement.

Having seen Aston Martin and Williams already turn their backs on their respective concepts, McLaren has become the latest to do so too.

It now leaves just Mercedes to soldier on with its more compact sidepod design.

The design concept that McLaren had initially followed (top, main image) is something that teams had pursued with gusto under the previous era of regulations.

Designers had aimed to narrow the bodywork around the car’s centreline and expose as much of the top surface of the floor as possible.

This was made viable by the aerodynamic tools at the designers’ disposal when it came to managing the front tyre wake. The front wing furniture, the flow through brake duct and wheel rim designs plus the bargeboards, with their associated furniture, all helped to create outwash.

Most of these tools have been taken away from the designer’s arsenal now and, whilst teams are all still finding ways to improve their weaponry, they can’t recover all of that performance.

On top of this, the way the floor works in 2022 is very different, with much more focus on the design of the underfloor tunnels that feed the diffuser. The floor's stiffness, the car’s ride height and its rake angle have also dramatically been altered.

This has led to the bulk of the grid opting for a more benign solution and offsetting their desire for tighter bodywork and a direct performance boost. Instead, they want a selection of surfaces that can act as a buffer to realign the wake along the flank of the car, rather than trying to displace it at the front of the floor and sidepods.

The sidepod designs utilised by the bulk of the grid therefore look to mitigate some of the issues posed by the tyre wake being shed from the front tyre by extending the sidepod’s length, and thus creating a divisional barrier to the airflow passing over the top of the sidepod.

McLaren MLC36 floor

McLaren MLC36 floor

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This primarily results in a downwashing ramp being used, with the airflow invited to follow the contours into the coke bottle region at the rear of the car.

As part of this design scheme, the upper surface of the sidepod can then also be fitted with cooling gills, which returned as part of the regulatory overhaul this season and allows heat generated within the sidepod an escape route.

This can also lead to the rear cooling outlet being smaller than might be the case with other solutions, which may lead to further aerodynamic gains.

In McLaren’s case it has also opted to sneak its cooling gills up around the high waisted engine cover’s shoulder, in much the same way that we’ve seen Red Bull, Aston Martin, Haas and Ferrari do.

Alterations have also been made to the floor fences and the underfloor strake system, whilst the floor's edge has been modified, as the team looks to better influence the wake generated by the front tyre by pushing it away from the car.

Further downstream you might note that the diffuser kickline and upwards ramp thereafter has also changed quite significantly. The floor stay is also much shorter being connected to the sidepod ramp now, rather than reaching all the way across to the engine cover.

A number of reliability fixes have arrived as part of this package too, including the rear wing endplate being trimmed following a reliability concern that had been raised in recent races.

Meanwhile, given the heat, McLaren has also introduced some optimisations in regards to the rear brake cooling, with revisions made to the internal ducting to help channel the airflow around the assembly more effectively.

shares
comments
Alpine confident Alonso, Piastri will be on ’23 F1 grid; will only loan Piastri
Previous article

Alpine confident Alonso, Piastri will be on ’23 F1 grid; will only loan Piastri

Next article

F1 teams urge FIA not to delay finalising 2023 floor rules

F1 teams urge FIA not to delay finalising 2023 floor rules
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats Plus

How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats

The 2022 Formula 1 season will be remembered as a record book rewriting Max Verstappen masterclass, a completely different challenge to his maiden world championship last year, and a clear sign he is still raising his own level. But where does it stack up against the all-time great F1 campaigns?

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022