Recognizing the flaws in their MCL60 concept even before the season began, McLaren made a critical decision to overhaul their floor philosophy during the Baku round in April. This marked a new development direction, prioritizing long-term gains rather than expecting immediate performance improvements.
Now, McLaren is set to introduce a series of upgrades across the next three rounds in July. The Woking-based team hopes that these advancements will propel them to the forefront of the midfield, as they have only managed to accumulate 17 points thus far.
To expedite progress, the team has strategically scheduled upgrades for the Red Bull Ring, with Lando Norris’ car receiving a set of fast-tracked improvements.
During the recent unveiling of the first round of changes, McLaren showcased a fully redesigned floor, sidepod, and engine cover. The team emphasized that the “fully revised floor” features updated fences, floor edges, and a revamped diffuser shape.
Understanding the interconnected nature of the car’s components, McLaren also reworked the sidepod and engine cover to optimize flow conditioning towards the floor, ultimately increasing aerodynamic load. Additional enhancements were made to the car’s mirrors and halo fairing to further optimize rear airflow. The updated engine cover shape now incorporates a geometry tweak for improved cooling.
Enhancing aerodynamic efficiency to generate increased downforce without compromising on excessive drag is McLaren’s primary objective. The lack of efficiency has not only affected lap times but has also hindered Norris and Piastri in their battles with rival teams, primarily due to a lack of top speed.
When asked about the team’s aspirations for a more efficient car, Norris expressed, “What’s made our life tough is just the lack of straight-line speed. I think we’ve been pretty much the slowest on the straights almost the whole year. This is trying to help a bit of that.”
While acknowledging that the upgrades may not yield monumental differences, Norris emphasized the cumulative impact of the smaller improvements. He hoped that the enhancements would enable him to surpass cars he should naturally be ahead of and potentially allow for closer following of opponents.
Norris commended his team’s efforts in expediting 50% of the ‘B-spec’ update for his car in Austria, surpassing the original target of Silverstone. However, he acknowledged the challenge of optimizing the upgrades during Spielberg’s sprint format, which includes only one free practice session.
“It was all meant to come for Silverstone, so the fact we’ve got some of it is already going to be a good step forward,” Norris commented. “Especially with it being a sprint race and maybe some opportunity to get points twice if we can, if it’s enough of a step, which is why we pushed everyone so much and the team were able to deliver on getting some bits earlier.”
“This is our first upgrade of the season, really, for performance. We obviously had an upgrade in Baku, but it wasn’t a performance deliverer,” Norris added.
Despite the lengthy wait, Norris expressed confidence in McLaren’s meticulous approach to ensure the upgrades were implemented correctly and in the most effective manner. He commended the team’s dedication, stating, “So, I want to say I have confidence that it’s a decent step.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about upgrades
What upgrades is McLaren introducing for the 2023 F1 season?
McLaren is introducing a series of upgrades over the Austrian, British, and Hungarian rounds, including a fully redesigned floor, sidepod, and engine cover. They aim to improve aerodynamic efficiency and increase downforce without sacrificing excessive drag.
How does McLaren plan to improve their performance with these upgrades?
The upgrades focus on optimizing aerodynamic load and flow conditioning. By redesigning the floor, sidepod, and engine cover, McLaren aims to enhance their ability to generate downforce and address their lack of straight-line speed. These improvements are expected to boost performance and allow for closer battles with rival teams.
When will the upgrades be implemented?
The upgrades will be rolled out across the Austrian, British, and Hungarian rounds of the F1 season. McLaren has fast-tracked a set of upgrades to Lando Norris’ car at the Red Bull Ring. The team aims to strategically implement the enhancements to maximize their impact on performance.
How significant are these upgrades?
While the upgrades may not result in drastic changes, McLaren believes that incremental improvements can make a cumulative difference. They anticipate that the redesigned floor, sidepod, and engine cover, along with other optimizations, will contribute to overall performance gains and help propel them towards the front of the midfield.
Is this the first upgrade for McLaren in the 2023 season?
Yes, these upgrades represent the first true performance upgrade for McLaren in the 2023 season. Although they had an upgrade in Baku, it was not focused on performance improvement. The team has carefully planned and executed these upgrades to ensure they deliver a meaningful step forward in terms of performance.