McLaren is the ‘best of the rest’ in Formula 1 2021 so far, but it continues to evolve and has brought several novelties to the Spanish GP.
McLaren has reached the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend with some new parts to evaluate as it looks to improve the performance of the MCL35M.
Daniel Ricciardo, collected baseline data on the old configuration.
Both had the improvements for the FP2, a front wing optimized to suit a higher downforce setup, and a new bottom that follows the lead of its rivals.
The changes made to the front wing they are very subtle, given that the layout used in the opening phase of the season only needs to be adjusted to get a little more performance, without destabilizing the flow structures that have already been established to bond well with the other aerodynamic components of the rest of the car.
The optimizationsAlthough small, they are profound, since the entire section of flaps of the wing. This is most evident in the interior and exterior areas, where the geometry of the main plane has been altered at the connection points.
In the outer section of the wing, the main plane now has a straight section where it connects with the endplate, instead of being tilted downwards (highlighted in orange).
This also has a corresponding effect on the shape of the flaps from behind as they have to be adjusted accordingly. All this alters the way in which the elements of the wing interact with the endplate and, as a result, also the behavior of the air flow.
McLaren MCL35M front wing comparison
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
The story is similar when the main plane connects to the neutral center section of the wing, as the leading edge now falls down with a smoother curve as it reaches the front of the wing (highlighted in orange).
This change in profile at the junction of the two wing sections will cause the Y250 vortex to detach from the modified region. Thus, the team fine-tunes the direction, shape and / or speed of the vortex before it is directed towards other downstream aerodynamic devices.
The shape of the flaps at the stern of the main plane, further altering the shape, direction and velocity of the vortex, while modifying the proportion of the wing available for flow conditioning versus downforce generation.
The two blades mounted on the underside of the wing also appear to have been modified, placing them closer together and slightly reducing the height of the outermost one.
McLaren MCL35M Z-shaped floor cutout
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
McLaren is also the eighth team to test a Z-shaped floor layout, having watched with interest the progress of its rivals during the opening phase of the season, while preparing its own version.
The solution has been paired with a pair of outwardly angled, stepped fins (arrow roja) at the beginning of the cutout as it seeks to direct the airflow into the path of the cutout and initiate a more powerful vortex structure.
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And while the aerodynamic structures of the upper section will no doubt have to be readjusted ahead of the rear tire, the team has already actively sought improvements in this regard this season.
McLaren is using quad fins that arch off the edge of the ground (arrow blue) and the “r” shaped fin (arrow verde) to try to redirect the airflow before it reaches the face of the tire. Left unchecked, it can spill into the diffuser, reducing performance.
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