McLaren F1 stunned everyone at the recent British Grand Prix, with Lando Norris securing a front-row start and eventually clinifying as the main challenger to Max Verstappen, finishing in second place.
His ability to outperform Lewis Hamilton during the closing stages, even on the slower hard compound tyres, drew considerable attention to the remarkable improvements McLaren has made with its car. These advancements came after new parts were integrated at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone.
McLaren’s evolution is significant, given its poor start to the season with a potentially slower car. This turnaround has sparked curiosity among competitors about the team’s strategy.
Mercedes’ technical director, James Allison, disclosed that his team is now particularly interested in what McLaren did to its car, as they seek to understand how the changes resulted in such an upturn.
In Mercedes’ regular post-race video debrief, Allison said that McLaren’s upgrades will be scrutinized more intensely than usual by his team.
“We monitor all teams as they upgrade,” Allison explained. “We extensively document these upgrades and study the alterations between races.
“When a new or unusual upgrade appears, we pay attention, and the intriguing thing about McLaren’s upgrade is its significant impact on lap times. It’s quite uncommon to witness such a boost in competitive performance mid-season, so hats off to them.
He continued, “They’ve done an excellent job, but it also piques our interest because we have the before and after pictures and know the upgrade greatly improved their lap time.
“It’s definitely worth our while to give more attention to this team’s upgrade than we typically would, as we know that whatever they changed had a notable impact on their lap time.
“It’s helpful for us to understand what that was and consider if it could inform our own car development plans.”
Mercedes’ chief, Toto Wolff, views McLaren’s mid-season leap as a positive example of what can be achieved in F1. He did, however, point out that McLaren had the advantage of additional wind tunnel testing time due to F1’s aero testing restriction rules.
He explained, “Granted they had more wind tunnel time to make upgrades that completely transformed their car’s performance. We’re talking about a whole second, not just two-tenths. But that’s great for the sport.
“It’s an indication that correct actions and good strategies yield results. We’ve observed this with Aston Martin year over year and now with McLaren within the year. I appreciate it.”
Yet, despite the added wind tunnel time, Wolff doesn’t believe it’s the sole reason for McLaren’s progress.
“I’m reluctant to say that more wind tunnel time is the only factor in their performance improvement,” he said. “In my view, it’s a combination of good engineering and sound decisions executed properly.
“We’ll have to see if they can replicate that performance in Budapest, which requires a different approach.
“But it’s always about marginal gains. If you have a 20% increase in wind tunnel time allocation and gain two seconds in a year’s car performance, that equates to four tenths.
“So, if you have an additional four-tenths or five-tenths in performance, that’s always going to help. But you still need the right innovation, design it correctly, incorporate it into the car, and correlate it with the tunnel and simulation. So, hats off.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about McLaren F1 Upgrades
What impressive feat did McLaren achieve at the British Grand Prix?
Lando Norris of McLaren secured a spot on the front row at the British Grand Prix and emerged as a main challenger to Max Verstappen. Despite being on slower hard compound tyres, he was able to hold off Lewis Hamilton in the race’s final stages, resulting in a second-place finish.
What notable changes did McLaren make to their car?
McLaren made significant upgrades to their car, which notably improved its performance. They added new parts at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone which resulted in improved lap times and overall performance.
How has Mercedes reacted to McLaren’s upgrades?
Mercedes’ technical director, James Allison, has expressed interest in the changes McLaren has made to their car. He revealed that his team would scrutinize McLaren’s upgrades more intensely than they typically would for other teams.
What does Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ chief, think of McLaren’s progress?
Toto Wolff appreciates McLaren’s progress, viewing it as a positive example of what can be achieved in F1. However, he did point out that McLaren benefited from additional wind tunnel testing time due to F1’s aero testing restriction rules. Wolff also added that good engineering and sound decisions played a role in McLaren’s performance improvement.
Can the improvements made by McLaren be replicated in the Budapest race?
Toto Wolff stated that they would need to wait and see if McLaren could replicate the performance improvements made during the British Grand Prix in the upcoming Budapest race, which requires a different strategy.