McLaren MCL35, 2020

Key explains lighter paint and tighter bodywork on his first McLaren

2020 F1 season

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McLaren technical director James Key said a lighter matte paint finish and more tightly packaged sidepods are two of the main changes on McLaren’s new car.

The MCL35 is the first chassis the team has produced since Key joined them from Toro Rosso.

The car is finished in a new matte version of its traditional papaya orange paintwork. That, plus the fact larger areas of the car have been left black, is not a cosmetic change, but a weight-saving measure which other teams have already adopted.

“It’s a good good mix,” said Key. “There’s a slight twist on the colour and the branding side of things as well which is very clean in terms of its look.

“But there are technical benefits to it. There’s a weight benefit, certainly, but there’s other things as well. It’s actually a combination of coatings which surround the colour with that colour.

“What’s been good about it is it has been a very good, close collaboration between the marketing requirements needs, the technical needs, and we found a solution which we’re both very happy with.”

Key said the team has also revised the car’s internals, including its gearbox, in order to slim down its sidepods.

“The body is following a trend I think we’re seeing increasingly with a very narrow sidepod, which is quite an exercise in packaging,” he explained. “You have to plan quite early for that sort of thing because it involves a lot of the engine installation and so on.

McLaren MCL35 launch, 2020
The MCL35’s sidepods are more tightly sculpted
“We’ve done a similar exercise with the gearbox to match the philosophy. On the rear part there’s been a lot of work on the rear suspension too.

“From the cockpit backwards it’s a very different approach to what we had before on the conceptual side of things. Equally there’s there’s a lot of technologies, let’s say, around the front which are only possible to do with a new car. We’ve introduced that too.”

The MCL34 the team produced last year was one of the team’s most competitive cars since the V6 hybrid turbo power units were introduced. Key said the previous car was “very much the father” of the new design.

“We tried to carry forward what we learnt last year as we were going. It was being designed as we were developing the [previous] car, so there was a bit of a process. And then [we] added what we felt were opportunities we couldn’t land on 34 with the geometry that we had.”

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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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  • 29 comments on “Key explains lighter paint and tighter bodywork on his first McLaren”

    1. The key of McLaren’s success is Key ;-)

      1. I will Seidl with you on this.

        1. Much said here makes no Sainz, Norris it any funny. Or is it?

          1. Sometimes our attempts at humour are over-Brown.

          2. Schumacher me laugh. Keep it up.

            1. These puns are Trulli hilarious.

            2. I’ve Senna it all, after all these puns

            3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
              14th February 2020, 9:35

              That’s enough! I’m Hakkinen to your accounts and putting a stop to this

          3. Only down Hill after such good puns.

            1. Wow! It all looks to be coming Alonso well 👍.

            2. The puns were taken to the Max

            3. I hope they got plenty of Resta before raising this Brundle of joy.

      2. I sincerely believe this car will be the architect of its ron dennis.

      3. Cristiano Ferreira
        13th February 2020, 20:47

        So sad this car has a missing Button :(

        1. Don’t worry, it will be Better Tomorrow.

          1. Cristiano Ferreira
            14th February 2020, 2:52

            I hope so. McLaren needs to keep Woking on this car :)

            1. Nigel here nor there.

            2. Haha, you guys made me chuckle! Surrey I can’t think of anything to add.

            3. These Prosts are hilarious

            4. If it is a winning car, the regret will Hunt a certain spaniard for years

    2. WOW! :P if Keith ever starts a thread of the day, this one’s a winner ;D

    3. Size zero side pods?

    4. Looks even more like a merc, wouldn’t be surprised if 2020 ended up being an even better year for mclaren. Unlike before, mclaren seem to only make sense these days.

      1. Yup, sensible decissions by sensible people, providing some sensible results.

    5. In terms of livery, this one looks quite a bit like the Renault from mid-2000s.

    6. Generally speaking when Teams have switched engine suppliers in the V6 era the second year is more sucessful than the first – often because they have to leave a little bit of margin for the unknowns of the Engine (RB had full access to the Toro Rosso data so their switch was a little different). Also McLaren make their own gearbox so would probably not know the full tolerances they required for the Renault engine. Thus there could well be some more obvious packaging gains for McLaren to make this year after running the Renault PU for a season compared to some other teams with these stable regulations.

      Fingers crossed RB get up and running quickly for a proper 3-way fight at the front (I mean if McLaren want to get up their and threaten the podium I’m all for it but I think they may still be a little off the front but we can but dream right?)

      1. Also just realised Im being an idiot and they used Renault engines in 2018 – ill get my coat.

    7. Haha, loving these comments :D

    8. The McLaren uses AERO paint which is a film of pain and looks like Vinyl. Comes on a roll and applied like Vinyl, but is paint. Has all the benefits of paint over vinyl, plus its lighter than both.

      Penske, Corvette, Rahal, United Autosports also use this.

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