McLaren “most interesting” of 2011 cars – Rinland

2011 F1 season

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Former F1 designer Sergio Rinland describes the McLaren MP4-26 as the “most interesting” of the 2011 F1 car designs.

Read his thoughts on the McLaren, Renault and Williams designs below.

McLaren MP4-26

Jenson Button, McLaren, Jerez, 2011

Rinland describes the McLaren MP4-26 as “the most interesting car of the lot”.

One of the most eye-catching features is its U-shaped sidepod arrangement: “The side pods are very original and in line with controlling the vortices that leave the front tyre and travel downstream into the rear tyre and beyond.

“These sidepods remind me of the Benetton and Ligier of the mid-1990s – but surely for a different reason and effect.

“The rear suspension is pull-rod, just to make even more sense of the original sidepod design.”

McLaren have also been evaluating different exhaust solutions. Rinland says: “The way the exhaust is facing is what has become the norm. It will be interesting to see how McLaren reacts to the Renault solution.”

A more subtle feature is the cooling intake behind the roll-hoop: “The way McLaren has solve the KERS cooling problem, similar to the Renault, is neat, having the secondary effect of reattaching the flow behind the airbox duct and hence improving the flow to the rear wing.”

Renault R31

Renault R31 exhaust, Valencia, 2011

Rinland explains the thinking behind Renault’s exhausts which exit at the front of the sidepod: “The Renault has shown the amount of work they have done on the under floor flow management area.

“The exhaust treatment is unique so far, but you can bet everybody is looking at the solution now.

“What they are doing here is to energise the flow right at the start of the floor’s edge, where normally the vortices from the front wheels and wing are so difficult to manage. Those vortices tend to suck the air from under the floor, hence, by sending the exhaust flow, this would create a curtain (or, as we used to call them, a skirt!) keeping energy under the car creating more down force.

“The exhaust piping must be something to behold!”

There are some similarities between the Renault and McLaren:

“Renault has also solved the KERS cooling as McLaren have, taking air from behind the roll hoop, with the desired effect of sucking the boundary layer where it tends to normally separate and use that flow to cool the radiator above the gear box.

“They have also gone to rear pull rod suspension, cleaning the rear to accentuate the flow puling effect of the lower rear wing.”

Renault showed an excellent rate of development last year which Rinland believes will be key to their success in 2011: “If Renault can keep up the development pace, they will be a force this year.”

Williams FW33

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Jerez, 2011

Rinland says the aggressive rear packaging and gearbox design on the Williams FW33 is a departure for a team he regards as ‘conservative’.

He said: “There’s nothing particular on the side pods and engine cover – until we get to the gearbox area. There I see something that it would not surprise me on other cars, but yes in a Williams, a true conservative team when it comes to radical ideas.

“Williams have done a gearbox to the bare minimum dimension around the gear cluster and what is more surprising, an extremely low differential which necessitates a very high angle drive shafts.

“The main reason for this solution is for all to see, which couple with the pull-rod suspension, is to clean as much as possible the flow to the lower rear wing, very important with the new rules to help to extract as much air from the diffuser as possible.”

He describes other “interesting” details on the FW33: “The front wing has the usual array of deflectors and 3D shapes to try to influence the flow and vortices downstream.

“The nose is as high as it gets, similar to their 2010 contender. Also interesting are the deflectors under the nose, to channel the clean flow due to the high nose, and the keel, which is more forward than their opponents’.”

Read Rinland’s thoughts on the 2011 Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus here:

Thanks to for the translated quotes

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44 comments on “McLaren “most interesting” of 2011 cars – Rinland”

  1. And McLaren’s exhausts have still not been uncovered!

    They do seem to be only on of a few teams not running into trouble with their KERS.

    1. Well they had the best system in 2009, so it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve hit the ground running on that front in pre-season testing.

  2. If only the interesting quotient made you faster. I’d be very interested to see a Red Bull RB7 with McLaren sidepods and nose, Renault exhaust, Virgin skirts and Williams rear suspension assembly.

    1. Biff a cowling somewhere in there too.

    2. It wouldn’t be possible to combine the KERS cooling system on the MP4-26 with RB7’s ducted sidepod extraction. Neither could be implemented on the Williams given how compact the rear end is. Would be nice though!
      As Scarbs has pointed out, McLaren may be experimenting with forward exhausts given the U-bend that has been spotted in the place of the regular exits on certain days of testing. How far forward is unknown though.
      Testing is fun =)

      1. Testing is fun, but I wish we could get on to racing already!

  3. from a mechanical engineer point of view Williams has taken the bigger challenge of them all, anyway McLaren leads the way of a radical sidepod design… I think it will be interesting to combine McLaren U sidepod design and Toro Rosso’s double floor…

    1. Well essentially they are doing the same job…

      1. … and you couldn’t combine them anyhow. Torro Rosso’s design requires very high sidepods to get the air underneath it. McLaren’s doing exactly the opposite trying to get the air over the sidepod. If you did both you’d no longer have any sidepod left.

  4. for a relative engineering newbie, these articles are really awesome. hopefully the williams can surprise a bit

  5. What does he mean with the renault KERS cooling? Can someone post a clear pic of that?

    1. You can just see it in this one: Renult have two little slots, one either side of the airbox, that suck air in and filter it down behind the engine to the KERS unit.

    2. Have a look at ScarbsF1’s blog, his diagram explains it perfectly.

      1. thx everyone for the replies : )

  6. When I first read that I thought that it was a bit cheecky saying that Willams were a “conservative” team. I thought “What about the ground effect FW07/08, and what about the active/semi-auto/tc equipped FW14 and 15”! But all those were inventions of other teams (Lotus and Ferrari specifically).

    The only thing I can think of that they pioneered (in F1 anyway) was the CVT Gearbox which was quickly banned.

    1. Seamless shift gearbox in 2006?

      1. Good call, I forgot about that one.

    2. inventions

      f1 teams didn’t “invent” these things, they merely made them work well in an F1 environment.

      ‘Innovations’ is perhaps the right word to use.

      1. Fair enough, I supposed F1 teams don’t really have wizards sitting in a lab “inventing” stuff…

        1. No one ever ‘invented’ anything in F1. :)

          V12 petrol engines, four valve heads, dual overhead camshafts etc and soforth, were all around and doing their jobs back in WW1!

          1. Didn’t McLaren “invent” the F Duct??

          2. hydraulic valves?

  7. good article, lookng forward for next Rinland’s thoughts.

  8. I’m sorry, but without Kubica, Renault won’t be a ‘force’. No matter how good Heidfeld supposedly is, Kubica is clearly in a different league.

    And then there’s Petrov, the guy who has difficulty keeping the car on the track…

    1. Did you watch F1 in 2007 and 2009?

      1. The same 2007 when the tyres didn’t suit Kubica, and he was out for 2 races? And the same 2009 where the KERS gave an advantage to Hiedfeld, yet Kubica was just only 2 points behind him, even though he had 1 more DNF?

        Yes, yes I did.

        1. Forgive me for saying, but you appear to have lack a little objectvity on this one.

          May I suggest you may be a Kubica fan?

          I don’t see any reason that if they give Heidfeld a good car he wont do a good job. He wont ultimately be as quick as Kubica (IMHO), but he is a solid driver.

          For the record I think Kubica is one of the very best out there. And hope he makes a full recovery.

          1. If I have Kubica as my avatar, then I think that does indeed make me one of his fans. P:

            Also, how am I lacking objectivity?

          2. Im a huge Kubica fan too, and I can tell you that you are lacking objectivity because there wasn’t a lot of difference in their performances over the years. IMHO I think Kubica is slightly better, and has got a little something extra that Heidfeld doesn’t possess, but over a length of the season, Heidfeld has shown that he can match Kubica. Additionally, I think you underestimate how motivated Heidfeld might be at his last shot in F1.

          3. M.M.C

            Lacking objectivity in that you gave an excuse for each of 2007 and 2009…

            But I was meaning it in good spirit of course. :-)

        2. Two lame excuses, KERS was a disadvantage in 2009 certainly for the first half of the season.
          Remember Eddie Jordan saying a KERS car will never win a race. OK they did in the end but the weight penalty and packaging was too much of a disadvantage for a majority of the season.
          In reality there is little to choose between them although I would rate Kubica ahead but by an extremely small margin.

  9. McLaren exhaust was figured out at the weekend over at f1technical.
    It blows inwards from the outside edge of the floor right in front of the rear tires to draw air in from the rear of the side pods and energise the air over the top of the diffuser in a similar way to Torro Rosso just facing in instead off out necessitating the ubend:

    1. Thanks for the link Ben! I hadn’t seen that and the evidence for the proposed slot exhaust certainly looks convincing.
      Great find! =D

  10. Anybody else that grew up watching F1 in the 80s/90s hoping Williams have a resurgence of sorts.

    I’d love for them to have a good car this season. And thats from a McLaren fan.

    It will be interesting to see the first race, when all of the teams put on their best dancing shoes (best bits for cars). I suspect there will be a large amount of changes between now and then.

    1. Absolutely. I’d love to see Williams do well again.

      With Patrick Head likely to retire soon, and Frank gearing up to step away at some point too. They are a great privateer team and I’d love them to have a last horrah as a team run by Frank and Patrick.

      Those two leaving will be a massive loss to the sport.

      1. Indeed. I just wish Hulkenburg was there to drive it too. Although I think maldonado will do ok.

  11. Have to say my Fav is the Williams and the really neat back and crazy driveshaft angles.

    I Suppose I’m hoping aswell that the aggressive design can put Barichello somewhere in the mix this year, would be great to see..

  12. The Williams seems the most radical. They even put the uprights on the wing-support. But I wonder how that crazy half-shaft angle is going to fare over high curbs and bumpy tracks. How much frictional loss does that angle cost? But the back of that car has basically disappeared out of the way of the beam wing.

    The U-Shape sidepod is interesting but it seems that overall, McLaren have gone to a relatively non-radical extent of clearing out the space between the rear wheels, such as RBR and Williams have done. They also haven’t tried to pull air more directly under the side pod like STR or FI. Their solution actually seems overall somewhat narrowly drawn and actually more conventional than some competitors.

    1. You can’t accuse McLaren of not making the best use of air under the sidepods when that is completely at odds with the design philosophy that they have gone for with the MP4-26. They are trying to maximise the airflow over the sidepods to get the most out of the beam-wing.

      In addition their placement of the exhaust exiting through 2 inward facing slots is to try and energise the air passing over the diffuser.

  13. The McLaren MP4-26 is certainly radical. But being radical is no guarantee of success. Look at the 2004 Williams with its walrus-rose – radical but it was too slow. Once they converted to a conventional nose design, their pace became quicker. Sometimes evolution and not revolution will guarantee success; but no doubt the innovations that the MP4-26 has heralded will leave McLaren in good stead for next year’s car…that is provided they actually evolve aspects of the MP4-26 into the MP4-27 or whatever next year’s car will be called.

  14. Out of the three contenders mentioned above i’m most looking forward to seeing the Renault. Regardless of whether or not the exhaust is actually beneficial makes no difference to me…it’ll just be interesting to watch how they use it and if it’s successful, who else can make use of it.

  15. Renault have really improved a lot from the last couple of years,so far they look promising but sad Kubica who have done a lot of work with the team won’t drive it.

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