MCL32: Technical analysis of the new 2017 McLaren

2017 F1 season

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We can’t see what Honda have done with their new engine, but we can see how McLaren have tackled the new regulations with the MCL32.

Nose and front wing

McLaren MCL32, 2017

Having had a taste of McLaren’s plans for its 2017 front wing during last season, it is a slight surprise to see the launch-spec design has retained the arched outer sections from its predecessor. A straight, leading-edge profile was trialled in 2016 (Sauber have used this idea on their new car) so whether that pops up again remains to be seen. The rest of the wing is generally the same, although there are now five distinguishable elements on the upper flaps controlling the Y250 vortex.

Assisting the flow along the centre line of the car are a pair of elongated nose pylons that fill the maximum dimension permitted in the x direction. These are an evolution of last year’s concept as two additional slots direct airflow inwards and back towards the splitter. A guide fin extends backwards underneath the nose, beginning at the proboscis nose tip which has been carried over from 2016.

The S-duct, no longer divided by the antenna, is in the same location as its predecessor and is fed by an inlet at the bottom of the front bulkhead rather than in the nose like Mercedes and Ferrari.

Brake ducts and suspension

McLaren MCL32, 2017

Brakes will be under significantly more load in 2017 due to the car’s greater aerodynamic capabilities and from the torque required to retard the larger tyres. This means that the car can slow done at a faster rate but more cooling is required for the discs to operate sufficiently over a long run. Two inlets have spawned on the McLaren brake duct to cool both the disc and caliper. Normally additional openings would point towards a blown front axle but a traditional axle stub was present at launch.

The front suspension remains pushrod activated but the rods intersect the chassis at such a high point that small bulges are needed to clear the internals. This could be a reoccurring design feature this year as teams seek both an aerodynamic and mechanical advantage by installing passive energy recovery heave springs (debate on their legality has been brewing over the winter).

Bargeboards and sidepods

McLaren MCL32, 2017

McLaren appear quite conservative in this area of the car at first but when testing commences their true colours will appear.

Like many of its rivals at this stage the MCL32 has launched with a very basic interpretation of the bargeboard regulations, featuring a single vane with two serrations connected to the chassis via an aerodynamically shaped mounting bracket. Renault-style flow conditioners greet the end of the bargeboard, although these are far slender than the French outfit’s.

Both Ferrari and McLaren have cleverly interpreted the new sidepod leading edge regulations but in different ways. McLaren has spent the last two years compensating their chassis performance due to the sub-par Honda power unit so plenty of attention has been paid here.

The rules require a backwards diagonal line from a point on the chassis when viewed from above – the floor, rather than the bodywork on top, has been used to meet this criterion. This has enabled the team to focus on shaping the sidepod intakes as they desire, continuing with their inward facing inlets from last year to best cool the internals. The narrower bodywork and a traditional sized airbox as a result of this thinking will help reduce the car’s overall drag.

Rear wing

McLaren MCL32, 2017

Behind the large shark fin you will see an innovative execution of the rear wing rules. While there is little McLaren can do about the wing’s profile and number of elements, the end-plates are an area where creative thinking can flourish this year.

Gill-like pieces of bodywork suspend from the overhang that the end-plates create as they clear the rear brake ducts, each piece overlapping each other and facing inwards. The gills guide turbulence from the rotating rear tyre to the inside of the end-plate through a gaping hole. A familiar set of outward facing gills line the base of the end-plate – these direct clean airflow into the same region as the out-wash from the diffuser. These little details will aid the performance of the floor below and the rear wing above to produce more downforce and decrease drag.

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10 comments on “MCL32: Technical analysis of the new 2017 McLaren”

  1. This car has some really nice lines/shapes, and according to my imaginary wind tunnel data will be very fast

    As much as I hate the Shark Fin, McLaren showed that with a smart paint job you can make it a bit more acceptable.

    1. This yes, smart paintwork to cover up ugly parts. Enhancing the pretty ones.

      Overall looks mighty good, certainlly looks more finished than midfield teams.

      Lets hope now Mercedes struggled to raise engine performance beyond 2016 power range.

  2. “This means that the car can slow done at a faster rate ” ‘Done’ should be ‘down’ I suspect

  3. Love the rear wing detail – quite unique here.

    Unrelated but the Haas has leaked:

    Prefer the livery to the Mclaren, though not as aerodynamically complex!

    1. Have they gone for grey instead of white or is that just bad lighting?

      1. @stigsemperfi A bit of both, I believe.

  4. There is some pretty good analysis of some of the new F1 designs on YouTube, pointing out bits that are easily over looked…

    1. can you share a link? :P

  5. I like that orange but I think that the black is more than I would like… Of course, its mine opinion… but a total orange would be great – and closer to Mclaren’s story… anyway.
    Also, that shark fin reminds me McLaren Mp4-10…

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