McLaren presented their new 2019 F1 car in Woking, the MCL34, which is completely different from its predecessor. Can fallen giant McLaren return to the top of the midfield and forget the catastrophic 2018 F1 season?
Thanks to Fernando Alonso and his ability to score points in uncompetitive cars, as well as Force India’s loss of points in the first part of the season, McLaren finished sixth in the 2018 F1 season although they were on average only the ninth fastest car in front of another fallen giant Williams.
Due to the late change from Honda to Renault, McLaren had very little time to integrate their new power unit and during the season they realized that there was a fundamental aerodynamic problem with the MCL33 which took too much time to fix and the team rather focused on the development of their new 2019 F1 car.
The new MCL34 is designed for the Renault power unit right from the start and although they secured the services of James Key from Toro Rosso, he will not start working until the middle of the season, just like the new team principal Andreas Seidl from Porsche.
The designers of the new MCL34 are Pat Fry and Andrea Stella who came from Ferrari with Fernando Alonso in 2015 and the new car looks much more complex and developed than its predecessor ever looked last season. But only testing will show if it is really fast enough to get involved in the battle at the top of the midfield.
Nose and front wing
McLaren has retained its unique nose shape that they introduced at 2018 Spanish GP and has a hollow central part and two lateral ducts while the front wing has five elements without complex outwash structures on its edges.
The main element (yellow) is slightly curved at the connection to the neutral central section to which the second element is also connected, as well as on the Mercedes, Haas, Toro Rosso and Red Bull 2019 F1 cars. This year teams can use only two vertical fences underneath each side of the front wing (turquoise) that must be between 500 and 800 mm from the centre line and the endplates (pink) are almost completely flat on the studio photographs.
The front wing flap adjuster (green) extends over the top three elements that have the highest angle of attack and the smallest surface.
The side view reveals that the front wing carriers merge into the already-seen cape that Mercedes has been using for several years and which directs the air between the front wheels while the side carriers have one slit (yellow) through which the air passes inside the cape.
Two vertical fences (pink) are also visible in the photo above.
In the lower picture we can see how the front wing of the new MCL34 presented in Woking differs from the one in the studio photographs – the top two elements (orange) aggressively bend towards the center section creating more aggressive vortex along the Y-250 line (250 mm from each side of the center which corresponds to the width of a 500 mm wide central section), but also sacrifices some surface to create downforce.
The main element (yellow) ihas different profile in its central part and the endplates (pink) are pointed more outward. In the photo bellow, there are also two horizontal fences beneath the front wing (turquoise).
Front suspension and area behind the front wheels
McLaren decided to follow the development path that Mercedes and Toro Rosso set in 2018 and mounted the upper wishbone (orange) to a firm extension (red) to raise its pickup point and have better aero efficiency.
The pushrod (blue) passes through the upper wishbone and is mounted on the highest point on the chassis and the upper wishbone chassis pickup point is also very high compared to, for example, Red Bull.
With this design, McLaren has created a lot of space between the upper and lower wishbones to allow more clean airflow to pass to the sidepod inlets and the rear end.
The front brake ducts (yellow) are simpler this year, with no aerodynamic add-ons, and McLaren has vertically divided them into three parts with the center part also split horizontally.
The bargeboards behind the front wheels can only be 350 mm high in 2019 (last year 475 mm) and McLaren has decided for a solution similar to last year’s Williams FW41 (orange on the photo bellow).
The main bargeboard (orange) has a lower and upper deck that vertically connects to the lower one and behind it there is a slotted blue vane that aggressively directs the air towards the sidepod. Below the main bargeboard there are two curved blades (pink) and a few smaller vortex generators (pink) as well as another smaller horizontal vane (yellow) that all together handle the turbulent airflow from the front wheels.
McLaren has followed Red Bull and Ferrari trend of positioning sidepod inlets (orange on the picture bellow) between two lateral safety structures (in the upper figure marked with pink) for which the intake was moved as high as possible. In accordance with this concept, the front suspension is designed to allow as clean airflow as possible towards the sidepod intake so it could be smaller.
In the photo above, there are also side vertical vanes (green) that are attached to the lower safety structure and which shape the turbulent airflow from the front wheels.
Mirrors needs to be positioned more away from the driver in 2019 and McLaren attached them to double mounts (purple in picture above, pink in picture bellow) to take advantage of some airflow management around the cockpit.
You can also see the intake (orange) between the two safety structures (yellow), rear view mirror mounts (pink) and lateral vertical vanes (green) on the picture bellow.
This year, McLaren has changed the power unit integration philosophy and instead of having as many elements in the sidepods as 2018 to lower centre of gravity and to have a small airbox above the driver’s head, this year they put more components above the engine and significantly increased the airbox size (marked in light blue).
The airbox is oval shaped and has two horizontal chambers (orange) and in the picture above you can see the upper wishbones (pink) and the rear wing with the curved lower edge of the main element (yellow) which we haven’t seen this season yet.
Rear suspension and rear end
The rear suspension is a pullrod configuration with double wishbones and the upper wishbone (light blue) has an aerodynamically very favorable shape as a result of the different geometry used since last year.
The lower wishbone is, together with the halfshaft (pink), packed in a single aerodynamic cover (orange).
The rear wing carriers are double and through them pass the central and two smaller exhaust pipes.
The above picture shows the engine cover and rear end, but also the multiple slats (orange) on the floor that stretch all the way to the driver and which are connected with angled fences (light blue) so that the floor doesn’t flex more than allowed.
On the inside of the rear wheel there is also the horizontal fence (green) which wants to isolate the air traveling above the diffuser from the turbulence generated by the rotating rear wheel.
In the picture bellow, the rear wing endplates have five extensions in the lower part of the upper half (orange) and the lower part of the lower part consists of eight elements (light blue), one of which is connected to the floor.