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Formula 1

McLaren launch car is real but still has ‘hidden’ parts

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

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McLaren has launched its 2022 Formula 1 design with some parts obscured but the car displayed is the one that will be tested at Barcelona.

Team secrecy is extremely high during the 2022 launches because of the major changes to the F1 technical regulations, as nobody wants to reveal their full design solutions.

Aston Martin became the first team to show a real 2022 car this week following Haas’s digital renders and Red Bull’s livery reveal on a show car.

The floor area of the McLaren is subject to a degree of secrecy, with a form of covering obscuring some details on the car displayed at the launch and only a basic version displayed in the renders the team released.

McLaren technical director James Key said of the MCL36: “I think we can be proud of presenting our real car, because it absolutely is.

“It’s the car we’ll be taking to Barcelona. Yes, we’ve hidden a few bits and pieces, for obvious reasons.

“There are some sensitive areas, but they’ll be seen when we’re running the car.

“As far as the development plan is concerned, like every team I’m sure we have development steps to come early on, because we’re still very much in the process at this stage where the development rate is pretty strong.

“So, we’ll be bringing some updates to Bahrain. The next parts are already in process now.

“You’ll see the car change but I’m sure everybody’s car is going to change.”

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The new rules mean sweeping changes from front to back, including the wings and other aerodynamic surfaces plus mechanical components like the suspension.

An obvious giveaway that this is the real MCL36 is the pullrod front suspension, a departure from recent F1 convention, which Key said McLaren has not bothered to hide because it will be obvious when the car runs and is almost impossible for another team to replicate now even if it wanted to.

Key acknowledged that teams will have a heightened awareness of what their rivals are up to during launches and when the designs are revealed in full at testing because there are so many unknowns within the new regulations and no trends have yet emerged.

“There’s been added complication that we’ve done it with the cost cap,” said Key. “That wasn’t originally planned, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 situation arrived that things were delayed and we ended up designing the car in the cost cap so we’ve all had to try to adapt that way too.

“And we had this topsy turvy situation to be able to mechanically develop the car for a long time, two years basically, but a delay on the aerodynamics until 2021. Which is completely the wrong way round.

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“So, with all those added complications, it’s going to be really interesting to see what everyone’s done and how everyone’s interpreted these regs.

“The subtleties in there are very, very influential and that’s the sort of thing that’s going to be of most interest.

Feb 11 : New McLaren’s suspension changes explained

“There’s zero data, there’s no reference point for these cars. They’ve been digital and mathematical for two years, until recent months.

“Comparing to what others have done, for all teams, is going to be a fascinating exercise.”

McLaren is planning to shake the car down with a filming day “shortly before” the Barcelona test begins on February 23 but team principal Andreas Seidl said there were “still some challenges ahead of us in order to make sure we have everything ready” to do that.

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