Ricciardo's snug McLaren showcases fine art of the F1 seat fit

In the first 2021 episode of its McLaren Unboxed series, the team has lifted the lid on one of the finer arts of building an F1 car, designing the seat around its new driver Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo moved across from Renault to McLaren this winter to replace Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz. With Lando Norris staying put, Ricciardo will slot into Sainz's crew headed by race engineer Tom Stallard.

In this season's first episode of the behind-the-scenes McLaren Unboxed series, the Woking team has given fans some interesting insight into one of the first procedures a new driver has to go through: fitting the seat.

Designing an F1 car is a fine art in which every millimetre matters, so it's only natural that the driver's position in the car receives the same level of attention as any other part.

Drivers can't exceed a certain height while sitting in the car both for safety and aerodynamic reasons. Being seated as low as possible will also help the centre of gravity of the car.

They are also subjected to a lot of forces while being reclined inside the car, so it's crucial for them to find a fixed and comfortable position which allows them to focus on getting the maximum out of the car.

Therefore a driver has to undergo several seat fits to find a comfortable position in the car that both the driver and the engineers are satisfied with.

First the driver will take place in the car while sitting on a bag filled with small beans and resin. Once the driver has found a natural position in the car, the beans and resin will form a mould around the driver's body. That mould is then scanned to produce a rigid, lightweight carbon fibre and honeycomb seat.

As we see in the above video however, that first mould doesn't always produce a perfect fit. Ricciardo is apparently struggling to fit his slightly wider hips inside the bucket seat, reporting how he's sitting "on top of the seat" rather than in it.

Ricciardo's hips don't lie, so engineers then have to make several cutaways to the edge of the seat to fit the Australian in.

They then apply plasticine to the same area to try and produce a snug and more accurate mould that will keep Ricciardo firmly in place.

That means McLaren will have to produce another seat for Ricciardo to fit ahead of his first laps in the MCL35M, based on a second scan of the tweaked seat.

Fitting in Ricciardo, who at a reported 1m78 is only slightly taller than Sainz, isn't just about his hips.

As shown by McLaren, attention then shifts to the pedal positions and making sure Ricciardo's lower legs comfortably fit in the front of the chassis.

The first winter test day in Bahrain will present the true test of McLaren's seat fit.

Being stationary in the car is one thing but driving the new machine in anger will expose further areas of discomfort than can be addressed ahead of the start of the season.

shares
comments
Ferrari has set "quite clear" targets for Giovinazzi in 2021

Previous article

Ferrari has set "quite clear" targets for Giovinazzi in 2021

Next article

Brown: McLaren "became a bit Darth Vader" in decline years

Brown: McLaren "became a bit Darth Vader" in decline years
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo
Author Filip Cleeren
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021