Why the McLaren MCL35M will be F1 2021's most different car

When McLaren pulls the covers off its new MCL35M at its Woking factory this evening, the expectation is of it being Formula 1's most different car of 2021

Why the McLaren MCL35M will be F1 2021's most different car

With teams forced to carry over their chassis from last season to this one, as part of cost-saving measures introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the scope for radical overhauls are quite limited.

McLaren's switch from Renault to Mercedes engines, however, has forced it to do quite a lot with its upgraded car.

With power unit packaging being a core component of current F1 design, and manufacturers each having unique approaches to their overall concept, McLaren has had to make some significant changes.

That much was made clear by the team last month when it talked about where its focus had been over the winter.

"Whereas every other team will carry over most of its car from last year into this year, our switch to the Mercedes power unit means that's not the case for us," said McLaren production director Piers Thynne.

"It's driven a huge amount of change and, essentially, we've been building a new car. The number of new parts on the MCL35M is about the same as when we built the MCL35."

But while the extensive changes to the chassis, gearbox housing, cooling layout and electrics have all been prompted by the Mercedes move, McLaren will not be immune to other factors forced on other teams.

The main challenge thrown at everyone is the new aero rules that have been introduced by the FIA to cut downforce - and help limit some of the stresses being put through tyres.

The changes to the floor and rear of the car have a much bigger impact on car performance than how they look - and could well become a talking point in the early part of the year.

For McLaren, they come against the backdrop of its targeting some key areas of improvement for the MCL35M which it hopes will help it try to repeat its top three finish in the constructors' championship.

For while the car was strong in high-speed corners and under braking, there were some inherent weaknesses that it hopes to address.

Speaking about these, technical director James Key said: "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."

McLaren is set to reveal its new car in a launch at 7pm UK time. For the latest news and insight from the launch, follow Autosport.

shares
comments
Red Bull to take over Honda F1 power unit operation from 2022
Previous article

Red Bull to take over Honda F1 power unit operation from 2022

Next article

From the archive: The greatest Mercedes you've never heard of

From the archive: The greatest Mercedes you've never heard of
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Formula 1
Jun 27, 2022
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Plus

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Plus

Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Plus

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far Plus

The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far

OPINION: Carlos Sainz came close to winning in Monaco but needed that race’s specific circumstances for his shot at a maiden Formula 1 victory to appear. Last weekend in Canada, he led the line for Ferrari in Charles Leclerc’s absence from the front. And there’s a key reason why Sainz has turned his 2022 form around

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Plus

Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

Plenty of high scores but just a single perfect 10 from the first Montreal race in three years, as Max Verstappen fended off late pressure from Carlos Sainz. Here’s Autosport’s assessment on the Formula 1 drivers from the Canadian Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022