Six races to go on the calendar and McLaren is yet facing another challenge for P4 on the constructors’ championship this far in the season. This time, the rival is Alpine. In order to reduce the 18-point gap, at McLaren they’ve introduced a new package in the car to face the 17th race on the F1 calendar.
James Key, McLaren’s technical director spoke to the media on Friday in Singapore about the “biggest” challenge on upgrades the Woking-based team has made to its challenger in 2022 so far, upgrades and technical changes that include revised sidepods and inlets, an updated floor, tweaked diffuser tail and new bodywork profiling and cooling.
"I suppose the lower and medium-speed corners is where we hope it's strengths will be," explained Key, as reported first by motorsport.com
"It will pick up a bit of efficiency on it as well, so it's not ideal for here, but places like Japan, for example, that's got a bit of a strength.
"There's a lot of learning to do with this package and I think like any other package introduced you've really got to get a feel for it, set your car up around it.
"By Sunday night we'll have a pretty good idea of where we need to take the setup of the car and that sort of thing. So, it's going to be a learning process this weekend, but I think we'll get more out of it in Japan. But, yeah, we've got a few key points we want to try and find."
Key also admitted the new package for the MCL36 has represented the greatest challenge for the team this season, in terms of having the components ready to use at Marina Bay, where only Lando Norris’ car will run with this new set-up.
"From a workload and conception perspective, yes. And it's a little bit experimental as well – we're learning new stuff with this. So, it will be interesting to see when we get on the track."
"It's always a trade-off. You can wait for later but you get less races to reap any reward from it.
"I think logistically, with all the flyaways that are going on now, it's difficult to do any sort of major works that might involve some mechanical work or chassis implications of a given package.
"So, Singapore is a logical one and we've seen several teams introducing some things here. If it's just a component, you can take it pretty much anywhere. But when it's something of that scope, you need to pick a target event that makes sense. After coming back from Europe, having a couple of weeks off effectively from racing, Singapore was the obvious target."
“It’s been an ongoing process, we had a little bit of conceptual work to do through the year,” Key told The Race. “This effectively is a logical step. It does follow on from what we did in the France update.”
“But there’s some conceptual changes on it as well, which are quite different. That’s the first step towards a new concept. Given the differences at the front, they impact the sides of the floor, they impact the underside of the floor.”
“You can’t see it but there’s a lot of detail beginning to develop now. Lots of surfaces and things that don’t look logical when you just think about the real basics of a ground effect, but actually make the differences.
“The bits you can’t actually see are some of the most effective parts.”
“Having said that, this package has got quite a lot of mechanical changes under the skin to allow some of the shapes to develop. So, we weren’t locked in, but we had to make some changes to this particular one compared to where we were.”