Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
Event finished
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
FP1 in
3 days
R
Portuguese GP
02 May
FP1 in
17 days
09 May
Next event in
23 days
23 May
Race in
40 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
54 days
13 Jun
Race in
62 days
27 Jun
Race in
75 days
04 Jul
Next event in
79 days
18 Jul
Race in
96 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
110 days
29 Aug
Race in
138 days
05 Sep
Race in
145 days
26 Sep
Race in
166 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
170 days
10 Oct
Race in
180 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
195 days
31 Oct
Race in
202 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
222 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
243 days

McLaren weighing up switch to low rake F1 car

McLaren is weighing up whether there could be gains to be made in moving away from a high rake concept for its 2021 Formula 1 car.

McLaren weighing up switch to low rake F1 car

Amid a growing belief in the paddock that the high rake design pioneered by Red Bull may have hit a ceiling of development, McLaren says it is not totally against moving towards the low rake design that Mercedes is putting to great use.

But the team’s technical director James Key admits there are big risks associated with making such a dramatic change of concept – especially with next season being the final year of the current rules set.

Speaking to selected media including Motorsport.com at Silverstone on Thursday, Key said that he accepted views from others that the high rake benefits may have hit their limits.

However, even if the team concluded that a low rake design could be better in the long term, there would still be some short term pain in changing car philosophies in such a way.

“It's risky, you know, but I think there is, from our own studies, some evidence, that you could see how both [concepts] could work,” he said.

“And while I don't think the high rake philosophy is dead necessarily, it does make you step back and think, well, maybe there is more out there that we could be finding at a lower rake. And in fact we've got some ideas and thoughts on how that might work.”

Key says the issue McLaren needs to be comfortable with before making a change would be in making sure it recovered any downforce losses it suffered in the short term as it learned about how to make the new concept work.

Racing Point switched from a high rake to a low rake philosophy this year, and it admitted that it initially started out what would have been several seconds per lap slower with its design when it first began work on it in the wind tunnel.

Key added: “Making the transition means you've got to go through all those troughs and there's not an awful lot of time to do that. So I think we'll have to see for anything for next year, given that it's the last year of the regs, as to whether you could make such a big change in the space of a year.

“There clearly could be something in it and I think there are some benefits. There is an obvious CofG (Centre of Gravity) benefit, but there's possibly some other characteristic benefits as well which favours that approach.”

Read Also:

Key says McLaren needs to be especially cautious because, with all-new cars coming for 2022, any gains it does make may only have a limited shelf life.

“In practice I think it's very difficult to change philosophy in the space of a year,” he said. “I know one team has done it, but there is a big question about that.

“The reality is to change the concept of your car so dramatically, particularly when you don't really have a follow up to that afterwards, when you're got new regs coming, whether it would be sensible or not. I think that is a different question.

“It is aerodynamically a wholesale change, as you really are starting from scratch with some of your understanding. But I think what we've recognised a bit, and I think probably others have as well, is that you can kind of see why that could have some benefit.

"The question is, can you integrate those principles with your current understanding? That's the timescales that we're really working on for next year I think.”

Key said that one factor speaking in favour of the switch was that it would not require any major mechanical changes.

“Mechanically I don't think it's actually going to be that different, because we talk about millimetres ultimately. It's not like there's a massive change.

“I think your suspension operating ranges will be very similar, as it's just really where you set your car up. And that's much easier to adjust than a wholesale change of suspension internals, for example. So mechanically it is probably possible. Aerodynamically, I think it's very difficult in the space of a year.”

shares
comments
Hulkenberg "in talks" over full-time F1 role for 2021

Previous article

Hulkenberg "in talks" over full-time F1 role for 2021

Next article

Mercedes to race with Stirling Moss tribute at Silverstone

Mercedes to race with Stirling Moss tribute at Silverstone
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams McLaren
Author Jonathan Noble
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Prime

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. Ben Anderson looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Prime

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Prime

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle.

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb Prime

How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb

Kimi Raikkonen's emergence as a Formula 1 star in his rookie campaign remains one of the legendary storylines from 2001, but his exploits had an unwanted impact on his Sauber teammate's own prospects. Twenty years on from his first F1 podium at the Brazilian GP, here's how Nick Heidfeld's career was chilled by the Iceman.

Formula 1
Apr 3, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Prime

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021