Jenson Button, McLaren, Jerez, 2014

Rivals can mimic McLaren suspension – Williams

2014 F1 season

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Jerez, 2014Other teams can mimic McLaren’s novel rear suspension design without making drastic changes to their cars, in the view of Williams chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson.

The rear suspension design on the MP4-29 was a “stand-out example” of the kind of innovation rival teams will look at closely, in Nelson’s view.

He believes the design could be incorporated onto cars such as the Williams without too much difficulty.

“I think that’ll be relatively straightforward,” he said. “More troublesome would be something like doing a new nose and wing assembly because then you have to re-crash test.”

Nelson said the function of the unusual suspension design was aerodynamic. “Well it’s not mechanical, you don’t design a tension or compressive member with a dog-leg in it on purpose unless you want to make something heavy and flexible.”

“I would imagine it’s making the diffuser work better,” he continued.

“One of the issues we have this year is the lower rear wing which is more or less, certainly illegal in the form that we used to run it last year, the point of the lower rear wing wasn’t so much to generate downforce on its own but it helps you be more aggressive with the diffuser. So it stops the diffuser stalling at low ride heights. I would imagine the McLaren wishbones are doing that.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 35 comments on “Rivals can mimic McLaren suspension – Williams”

    1. I just wonder why Mclaren showed their cards this early. This week was about powertrain testing, they could’ve just sticked with a basic suspension and save this trick for later..

      1. well they recruited Boullier, the worlds worst tactician…mybe he had a say in it.

        Jokes aside, I kind of agree with you. If it is such an easily copyable design, they should’ve kept it under wraps for a bit

        1. Maybe thats is why. If it is so easy to copy, what is the point. Better to try and get as much meaningful data to see if it is actually doing the job that it is intended to do.
          I will be interesting to see if the teams have it on in Bahrain though…..

        2. Also the way McLaren have designed it, may mean it is integral to the suspension and handling.
          Running without it, just to gain a bit of advantage in revealing it, could affect how the car handles and many other characteristics….so better to run with it from the beginning….

        3. lame joke, why even say it? do you dislike boulier? he did great at Renault/lotus, he arguably did a better job as team principal then Ross Brawn in the same period at Mercedes.
          Mclaren did the right thing to come out with it straight away, and develop it, rather then wait till Melbourne to find out if it works or not.

          1. @mach1, @kpcart, I disagree. I think the engineers at enstone created one of the most efficient platforms in many aspects… And I also think that every edge they had, was used poorly, Especially in 2012. They were SO happy to having a couple of podiums, that any shot they had at a win got squandered. They waited god how many laps until pulling the slower car out of the way (singapore come to min instantly).

            They achieved a massively impressive car/platform and accomplished very little with it. They did use impressive tactics in Australia 2013, but every other aspect was at least 1 tier down of red bull/merc/mclaren… look at the average pit stop for crying out loud… apalling, and it meant that they could NEVER frog leap anyone during them, it is such a shame and I put a big part of the blame on Boullier YES!

            1. an Brawn did not have that calibre of machine to work with during those year which you know VERY well, and a comparison between them is pointless.

              Doing great with average machinery is an awesome feat
              doing average with awesome machinery is NOT!
              so please…

        4. Boullier is a clever guy. He had lotus fighting with Red Bull with no money in the bank and managed to fix Grosjean.

        5. it can’t be copied, because it is tied into the rear suspension and specific kink has been made to accommodate the wide wishbones. Then to apply them they have to do all the crash tests again before it can be applied so maybe in the 1st quarter of the season McLaren will have that but we can only see.

      2. Indeed, its interesting. Because often when teams do that, its because they want to hide something even better!

      3. If they showed it they surely had no choice but to test it, just to see if it works. Besides that, I wonder how much fuel they sacrifice to gain that rear downforce, provided it is what it is designed for.

        1. I doubt they will sacrifice too much fuel by doing so. The reason why a beam wing ‘replica’ is sought after is because it gives a lot of downforce relative to drag compared to other parts of the car. By having the beam wing, you can take downforce and thus drag off other parts of the car to gain an overall increase in downforce while not taking on extra drag.

        2. no it doesn’t matter its just causing low pressure in front of the rear wing so it helps not only rear down force but little aerodynamic is gained due to low pressure similar to what them banana nose cars do at the front

      4. Who cares! I’m just looking forwards to a preseason on f1fanatic where the first time in about 5 years we don’t have every second person claiming McLaren are sandbagging. #rookies #lewisspike

      5. Perhaps to gain sponsors.

      6. It isn’t as to copy as he is making out. It would require a new gearbox casing because the suspension pickup points are part if the casting and you also need a rear crash structure will have to pass the fia crash tests. Then you have to repackage the suspension and try to predict the effect all that has on your aero. It would be Barcelona before we see copies of this.

    2. I may have missed some discussion on this, but isn’t the suspension supposed to be aero neutral? Is that terminology defined in the rules (i.e. do the rules state aero neutral means blah blah) because if not surely that shouldn’t be legal? I should point out I’m a McLaren fan and I imagine they’ll have asked the question of someone like Charlie

      1. I haven’t seen detailed pictures, but I imagine by themselves the wishbones are aero neutral, but what they are doing is using them to intentionally block the airflow and cause extra turbulence which creates a low pressure area behind them. This is not creating downforce by itself so is aero neutral. However, by being close to the diffuser the low pressure area is extracting more air from the diffuser, making it more powerful.

      2. Not neutral at all. That’s why they run their axles through one suspension arm.

        1. No they don’t. They can’t do that with their new system.

    3. FIA will not make problems to McLaren because this 2014 cars are sl slow that any smart idea that could bring back more speed is welcomed at the moment.

      1. The McLaren lapped Jerez in 1:23.2. Last years fastest Jerez time was 1:17.6. The new cars are in a very basic and conservative spec. Expect them to shave whole seconds off that by Melbourne. Don’t be too quick to criticise.

        1. +1 THANK YOU! Why are people panicking when it is obvious that they’re running fairly conservatively on this first test with a completely new system???

    4. Are there any pictures looking toward the rear? All the pictures I’ve seen are from the rear

      1. +1 I’ve been waiting for a close up picture from the opposite perspective.

    5. Will be interesting to see which teams will copy this suspension system, and how early they can bring it to track.

      Read somewhere that it could be worth close to 0.5s a lap

    6. It’s good to see mclaren being the team to keep an eye on again! I’m sure redbull have something up their sleeves but since nobody can see the wild bull… If they want to copy stuff of the rebull, they have to wait till bahrain.

    7. Somebody said they would surely have asked Charlie about it, but how many times did Charlie gave his go-ahead and then retracted that same go-ahead.

    8. A few of us have been looking for other views and an analysis of McLaren’s “butterfly suspension”. This has some good diagrams showing probable airflow from a side view and a good technical analysis.

      1. Importantly, McLaren have designed their rear suspension so that these rear wishbones are as much to the back as possible, attaching to the very rear of the gearbox housing. The taem have therefore also been unable to combine the driveshaft with the lower wishbones like Red Bull and Ferrari have done. It is exactly this suspension geometry that would make it extremely hard for other teams to simply copy the design, as it would require redesigning the gearbox, the rear suspension mountings and the suspension wishbones, creating a combined impact on aerodynamics and mechanical behaviour that will take time to verify and optimise.

        That’s a direct contradiction to what Rod Nelson said, then. It could be that Williams will find it straightforward to copy the design, while Red Bull and Ferrari will not. Otherwise, one of them has to be wrong.

        1. Agreed. Considering they have given a sound reasoning as to why it would be difficult and Rod seems to be nonchalantly speaking off the cuff, I’d lend more credence to the analysis saying it might be rather difficult.
          If… possibly a big if… it turns out to actually work, we’ll see if others can copy it. Whether the trade off for losing straight line speed is advantage enough is yet another question.

        2. The element in question is not the wishbone. It is actually the track rod or toe arm.

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