Posts Tagged: MP4-26


Sunday 6th February 2011

In the last week, the 2011 F1 season got under way, with the start of pre-season testing. The best bit of this is that we get to see all the new cars, and so get to have a look at what clever new bits and pieces they’ve got.

The new McLaren was unveiled on Friday, and it’s pretty interesting. I wrote last year about my admiration for their design, and this year I had pretty much the same reaction.

Some background: F1 cars have various aerodynamic appendages which work to push them to the ground, which gives them such immense grip. One of these parts is the rear diffuser, which sits at the bottom of the car at the rear, and increases the velocity of air moving under the car so as to reduce the pressure and create downforce (they used to run full-length venturi tunnels under the car, and one team even went so far as to use a fan to suck air from under the car). In the last two years, the teams have used a loophole in the regulations to make their diffusers bigger, to give the car more downforce and so more grip. This loophole has now been closed, so more grip needs to come from the rear wing to make up the difference.

To aid this, McLaren have shaped the sides of the car to maximise the clean flow of air to the wing. The result looks pretty weird (the “L” shape sidepods; compare that with last year’s car, which had more conventional air inlets in the sides), but it’s absolutely logical. It’s a relatively small detail, and one that the other teams didn’t spot, but it’s a brilliant idea and a beautiful piece of engineering.

No idea whether it’ll work in practice though, as the car hasn’t been tested! Either way, it’s a very nice idea.

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