McLaren: 'Essentially we are building a completely new car'

26-01-2021 14:21 | Updated: 26-01-2021 17:44
F1 News
McLaren: 'Essentially we are building a completely new car'

McLaren is the only team to switch engine suppliers between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. After a few years of driving with Renault, this year they will drive with Mercedes power sources. This puts the British team in a unique position, as it allows them to take a different approach to the car than the other teams. There are certain issues that need to be addressed in order for the engine to fit and work, but it remains to be seen if this will bring any benefits.

Restrictions for the teams

With the postponement of the new regulations to 2022, it was decided last year to place a restriction on development for 2021. As a result, the teams can do certain developments on the basis of a token system, but not everything if they want to. McLaren have a slightly different perspective on this, given they are changing engines.

"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," McLaren's production director, Piers Thynne, told "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. The back of the chassis and gearbox bell housing around the engine have changed significantly to adapt to the new power unit. Changing power unit greatly alters the architecture of the car and the way everything is packaged."

He continued: "So the entire cooling layout and all the pipework – be that for fluid or air – has changed, along with all electrical harnessing and control boxes." Nonetheless, despite building a new car, McLaren does face certain restrictions, as they also have to use a token for specific (aero) developments. Nevertheless, McLaren is clearly just a bit freer in the construction of the car.

Everything is on track

With two months to go until the first Grand Prix, the additional news is that the team is on track. But things are not going smoothly, says Thynne: "There are some challenges in certain areas at the moment – but that’s F1. If you’re not encountering any problems, then you’re probably not being aggressive enough."

"If everything is easy and straightforward it tends to mean you’re giving performance away because you’re not pushing the boundaries. The real challenge isn’t necessarily producing the launch car, it’s how you evolve from it by upgrading it as quickly as possible," showing that McLaren are also thinking about the near future in terms of building and developing the car.

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