Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

McLaren allowed to alter 2020 chassis to fit Mercedes power unit

2021 F1 season

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McLaren will be allowed to make “necessary changes” to its 2020 F1 car when it changes power unit for next year, despite teams agreeing to freeze their chassis designs for next year.

Formula 1 has postponed the introduction of new rules which were intended for 2021 and agreed teams will continue using their 2020 chassis next year as a cost-saving measure following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

However McLaren had already agreed terms with Mercedes to switch to its power units in 2021. It will therefore need to make compromises to a chassis which was designed to accommodate a Renault.

Team principal Andreas Seidl said they support the change of rules and will be allowed to changes its MCL35 chassis in order to fit a Mercedes to it.

“There is no escaping the severity of the pressures faced by the sport right now,” said Seidl. “In the same way that decision to introduce the new regulations was aimed at improving the long-term health of Formula 1, the decision to postpone them has been made in the same vein.

“We support the postponement and have played an active part in the conversation around doing so. We recognise that it is crucial to protect the financial health of all the teams while ensuring a level playing field when we do go racing. Furthermore, this decision does not impact our change to Mercedes power units in 2021, and we will be allowed to make the necessary changes to our car to accommodate this.”

As reported earlier, McLaren will begin its mandatory factory shutdown tomorrow following the new restrictions brought in yesterday by the British government.

“The key focus for everyone in the team is on staying safe,” said Seidl. “Prior to shutdown, much of the team are working from home, with only critical staff working in the factory on split shift working schedules. This enables us to be ready to go racing again as soon as we can, while minimising the risk to our team.

“We all want to go racing and we carry that passion with us whatever our working arrangements are. The effort doesn’t stop, we just make sure that we are working in a safe manner.”

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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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16 comments on “McLaren allowed to alter 2020 chassis to fit Mercedes power unit”

  1. They’ll be hardest hit if a 2020-21 “super-season” becomes reality.

    1. Absolutely not important at this moment – but it will be interesting to see two different PU-s used in one/similar chassis. This hasn’t happened before.

      1. @f1lauri – agreed, that’ll definitely be interesting, a very nice benchmark of PUs. Pity it wasn’t a Ferrari customer switching, that’ll have put the cat amongst the pigeons (re. who has the better PU). It’ll also be neat to see how the McLaren stacks up against the Racing Point.

        1. It is not exactly a benchmark because the current mclaren is made for the renault engine and the merc engine have different packing requirements that could force mclaren to take a small aerodynamic hit if they need to make the engine cover bigger for example.

      2. but it will be interesting to see two different PU-s used in one/similar chassis. This hasn’t happened before.

        Maybe not in this era, but it used to happen a lot in previous eras. The Minardi M191 (Ferrari in 1991 and Lamborghini in 1992) leaps to mind, you could argue the RB4 and STR3 where one/very similar chassis and they used different engines too. I’m sure there are others I can’t think of.

    2. I think the whole “superseason” is a bit of an off-shot. Just from the most simple and the very basic point of view – are some of the venues (let’s say those who will be lucky enough to host the Grand Prix this year) going to host two races in one “season”? Since most of the contracts have been signed, you cannot expect FIA to radically reshuffle the things and say look, just because we had this unfortunate situation in the first half of 2020, all venues are eligible to hold only one Grand Prix in a two year span, notwithstanding the actual contracts and agreements. It’s simply unfeasible. You either end up with some of the venues having two races in a monstruously long season or you will deliberately strip some of the promoters of their right to host races in both 2020 and 2021, and you’ll end up losing the hosting fees, of which the teams are in terrible need.

      The most probable scenario is having a short season from the end of August to Christmas (if at all) and then a proper 2021.

      1. Not even sure what you think the problem is with having 1 venue organising 2 races during a super season.
        Just provoke your own memory @pironitheprovocateur and go back 1 year to the WEC super season.

    3. They’ll be hardest hit if a 2020-21 “super-season” becomes reality.

      @phylyp, (repeating what I commented earlier:) officially an entry for the WCC is a Chassis-PU combination. Thus if they merge the seasons then McLaren will have 2 separate entries.
      They might be ‘racing’ themselves for a spot in the final standing ;)

  2. Will Das now continue into 2021?

  3. Mercedes->Honda->Renault->Mercedes — the lost years at McLaren

  4. By the way, I have read somewhere that FIA plans to ban all wind tunnel works on 2022 cars until February 2021. Wouldn’t be bad for a start.

  5. As the French say, “les rules are les rules except for McLaren”.
    They must have known when they decided to ditch Renault that the chassis will need changing to take the Mercedes and they, like every team, agreed to no chassis changes. I guess they also knew exceptions are made for every rule.

    1. I wouldn’t take the French on their word for McLaren.

    2. Islander, when they decided to go with Mercedes that was before the virus so i don’t understand your comment?

    3. Are you proposing that McLaren should have predicted the virus and the ensuing changes to the 2021 rules?

  6. Idk, I think we have seen backmarker “customer” or small teams supplied with Ferrari or Mercedes engines in modern F1 (Ferrari: Sauber, Haas and Toro Rosso often had weak season, Marussia 2016 – 0 points, Mercedes: Manor 2015 – 1 points, Williams) . So I think especially under these circumstances allowing them to retrofit the chassis for another engine is not a huge concession, and there is a high chance to perform badly, especially if its only a small retrofitting instead of a bigger redesign. And at this year’s testing, McLaren was sandbagging a bit or they not really improved as much as they hoped for, so with this retrofit, their hope is they have some time to design it.

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