Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Silverstone, 2021

New McLaren MCL35M makes its debut on track: First pictures and video

2021 F1 season

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McLaren’s new MCL35M has run on-track for the first time since it was revealed at the team’s headquarters yesterday.

Lando Norris was first to drive the new car at Silverstone today. Daniel Ricciardo, who has joined the team for 2021, will also drive the car during one of McLaren’s allocated ‘filming days’.

McLaren became the first team to reveal its new car for the 2021 F1 season yesterday. They have changed engine suppliers, from Renault to Mercedes, and face the challenge of fully integrating the new power unit with a car which was designed for different hardware.

They have hit the track for the first time almost a month before official pre-season testing begins at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12th.

Pictures: McLaren MCL35M first track run

This article will be updated

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Video: First look at McLaren’s MCL35M

Images: McLaren via Twitter

2021 F1 season

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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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43 comments on “New McLaren MCL35M makes its debut on track: First pictures and video”

  1. I don’t get the fuss, I think that engine tone sounds great

    1. I agree…I think they sound fine. They’re not as loud and visceral as the old V10s, but the extreme high raving noise use to annoy me a bit. I much prefer the throaty bubbling sound of a lower revving V8 ;-)

      1. @jodrell Living a few miles from Silverstone I can hear MotoGP, WEC plus a few other series from my garden but sadly not an F1 car. I’d like to see or rather hear some sound return to the cars, perhaps not to previous levels although closer to those than what we have now.

        1. @stuben Were you living there during V12-V10-V8 era? I would be happy if you could compare them to present day..

          1. I’ve heard V10’s, V8’s and Hybrid V6’s. All sounded great to me, Its the Sport not just the Engine Sound! Funny thing is the McLaren MP4/4 was a 1500cc V6 Turbo, so even smaller than now Capacity wise and didn’t Rev as High. Just thinking of comparisons…Its still my favourite car.

    2. We don’t compare F1 engine sound to the sound of a local bus or some random “soccer mom” van. If we compare this sound to the sound of F1 engines from 80s, 90s and 2000s then it’s not that great, especially live.

      1. As one who hear all those sounds live i must say the current is quit hard >135dB but sounds like a nose who has the cold.
        While the older engines sounds like very high whining sound.

        But the engineers told me how more sound it makes how more power it loses. So the 1000Hp BWM engines of 2007 could be much higher if they designed the engine beter like the current ones.

        1. @macleod While I agree with the “more sound = less power” logic, I believe that a lot of the sound reduction is due to the presence of turbochargers in the exhaust flow, and turbochargers were not allowed in 2007.

          1. @jimg I forgot when the last time they used turbo’s 1980-1990 i think but those sounds were still whining hard. So if you had the whining sounds now (2014-) you know they were not efficent enough.

          2. I think the big difference is not so much the turbo per se, but the inclusion of the MGU-H.

            Now the turbine half of the turbocharger is taking energy from the exhaust not just to run the compressor when on-throttle, but also to charge the battery. So there’s more of a benefit in designing the turbine to extract as much energy as possible from the exhaust.

        2. @macleod where are these strange figures coming from? Are the V8 engines now suffering from the sort of rampant power inflation that the turbo engines of the 1980s have had for so long?

          None of the V8 engines got anywhere near producing 1000bhp – Theissen has confirmed that the BMW V8 produced 746bhp back in 2007, and they peaked at a maximum of 752bhp in 2008.

  2. They should have just put ballasts in the cars this year to even everyone up given no wholesale changes in the regulations.

    1. Why should we penalize whoever did a better job?

      1. So we get some actual racing between teams rather than a continuation of the disaster that has been the hybrid era. Worst 7 years in the sport’s history.

        1. Its up to the other teams to do a better job. Otherwise there are plenty of spec series one can watch.

          1. Sure, but then let’s get rid of random limitations on real life testing vs computer simulations and allow certain teams that have fallen behind in their virtual simulation capabilities to make up ground the way they can and traditionally have done in the past. Current rules are designed in a way to favor teams that might not necessarily have the same capabilities when it comes to testing as compared to say Ferrari so why should we be okay with one arbitrary regulation while being against the other?

          2. Avto, you seem to be suggesting amending that rule with Ferrari in mind, as they would be one of the biggest beneficiaries from a relaxation on the rules around physical testing, but restrictions on physical testing began to kick in back in 2003.

            In the case of an outfit like Ferrari, I would have expected a team as rich and well resourced as Ferrari to have made quite significant improvements in that field over the near 20 year gap since those restrictions began to kick in. That is particularly the case when Ferrari was an active participant in those talks about reducing the scale of physical testing, would have known what was coming and had several years to begin preparing for that change.

          3. Unlimited testing used to give yet another advantage to the teams with the largest budgets. The budget cap might neuter this effect. I think teams that aren’t scoring points should be allowed to run a third car during practice or some of the practice sessions. This does put unfair pressure on the midfield teams that just miss out on the cutoff. Also back then the drivers were constantly on track testing the cars.

            I do not like the idea that poorly performing teams are limited from developing their cars this year. The points will make it hard for Haas and Williams to make much improvements, also Ferrari and even McLaren because they had to make changes to fit the Merc PU. The dev points system was a major coup for Mercedes.

  3. John Sidebottom
    16th February 2021, 11:05

    Let’s all be positive about the new season. Why such negative comments? Are you F1 fans or not? Come on guys testing not far away.

    1. Agreed. Looking forward to the new season.

  4. Yeah time to cut this tech nonsense off of a simple engine. I sort of dug the Cosworth years for the look of the motor. I’ve made many of them. Then there is the sound and the performance is enough. I don’t think there was any computer aids then but it was damn fast enough then and although we can say the current GP engines are mighty powerful and if you fart right somebody will figure out of to expel power out of that human function. As absurd as that sounds these new hybrid motors do basically that. It’s too complicated. For no reason either. A solution was found and worked fine for years then Renault unleashed the Kraken and now we are told there are Engines under the body work. Don’t know actually as the modern Grand Prix engine is hidden. The Cosworth stood proudly and said look at me. There just was something then that is gone and the new for all this technology only complicates the show. Racing is about visibly the same and only drivers and teams know the diff from the guy in California who still thinks F1 cars are Indycars. He doesn’t give a RatsAss about the engine except that it’s very noisy and it screams under power.
    So maybe stepping back a bit might move a larger audience forward. Fans buying the crap advertised on the cars stuff. Back to authentic racing.
    As a multi decade fan I’ve seen a bunch of fast cars. I’m beginning to wonder if Formula One Technology has lost its way and perhaps a simpler formula is needed.

      1. Yes I’m OK and I’m not your hun.

        1. I just thought I’d check as your prior comment was entirely nonsensical and made me mildly concerned for your wellbeing.

    1. I’m from California.

      I am perfectly capable of telling the difference between an F1 car and an IndyCar.

      I DO give a rat’s ass about the engine. It is tragic that F1 has had since 2014 to promote and explain the absolutely unbelievable feat of developing and perfecting a petrol engine that is possibly the most thermally efficient combustion engine in the history of combustion engines. It makes more power than it wastes energy. The 1000+ horsepower they are getting from 1600cc is mind boggling and awe inspiring — my VW Beetle’s 1600cc engine made 50 horsepower.

      Thanks to the failing of F1 to capitalize on this wonderment, we have people still crying about their sound rather than understanding just how mighty a feat the current power plant is.

      It is depressing to read this article’s comments. You’d think all F1 fans lack the mental capacity to fathom the magnitude of what makes F1 so incredible.

      1. Hey if it sounds bad then it’s lump.
        Cant you figure that out. I should have picked Ohio instead of California as for describing the inability to actually know that there is a diff between Indy and F1.
        As for all your mumbo jumbo technical knowledge I’m impressed but listen to me really good now….if it sounds like kitty poopoo then it’s kitty poopoo. It’s just that I grew up HEARING the sounds of excellence from Formula Racing engines. The kind that SCREAM. 20,000 RPM and nothing but fuel and oxygen. Simple fast and never forgettable.
        Today’s engines are a technical marvel. So why all the haters about the old ways the old sounds and the desire of honest men trying to wrangle enough out of simpler machines to attain victory. F1 cars are meant to be fast. Simpler ways are often the better way. Thanks for what I learned from your responses.

        1. Stevenholmes, to answer your rather oddly phrased questions – if what has been rather apparent from past years still holds, the reason is rather more likely to do with the fact that most people watching now began watching F1 in the 1990s.

          Because of that, they have the mentality that F1 is about high revving normally aspirated engines, because that is what the sport was like in their formative years – thus, that always becomes the reference point to which they refer to, particularly with the tendency to look back on things more fondly than they were remembered at the time.

          In your particular case, you are an example of that – you talk about growing up hearing those engines and have formed that association between the sound and the sport, and thus you view the world through the filter of your own personal experience.

      2. It appears to me that F1 fans lean generally in 2 directions … those, like you, who are mostly fascinated by the mind blowing tech, and those, like me, who lean more towards the (mostly lost) visceral aspects. Nothing really wrong with either side…both camps want to see good racing, but what they would like to see in actual cars on the track is what differs quite a bit. As an engineering exercise, F1 is absolutely 2nd to none in modernization and amazing innovation. As the top car racing series, with what used to be brutishly difficult and noisy lightweight cars screaming around the track, well, for me personally F1 has lost much of its appeal. All that said, I also understand that F1 is, and always has been, about innovation and moving forward. I still enjoy it to an extent, and I guess I’ll keep watching until they go fully electric.

      3. Don’t forget about the 1,300 HP 1,500 cc engines back in the Naughties …..
        Not as thermally efficient, but in terms of racing and raw power, tough to beat.

        1. @rekibsn think you’ve got something extremely jumbled up there – the “Naughties” is generally the term used to refer to the period from 2000-2009, and the teams were definitely not using 1.5 litre engines during that period.

          As for the 1980s, which is what I assume you actually meant to refer to, the power figures thrown around are extremely suspect and have been prone to exaggeration and inflation over the years. Those sorts of claimed figures only ever appeared for a short period around 1986 for the BMW M12 qualifying engine, and even then Rosche’s claims in the English speaking world are a lot more hyperbolic than anything he said to the press in Germany.

      4. (Another engineering-focused Californian here!)

        I think one of the big issues F1 faces is that like any race series, the cars are the results of the rules, but the rules have become really strange and unwieldy, in part because teams have too much say in how the rules get written.

        There is a ton of “space” for interesting engineering in F1 – Renault’s dampers, the F-duct, Merc’s split turbo, etc. – but the problem is none of it is *visible* to audiences. The rules are too strict, in a way that radically limits any team from wildly punching above their weight through cleverness, and they’re also so strict that all the cars fundamentally seem the same.

        For me, the most interesting times in F1 (and yeah, I’m 44) were the days when Williams’ FW14b was this technological monstrosity. Or the fan car. Or even the introduction of high-nosed aero. Last thing in that category for me was the double-diffuser era, and exhaust-blown aero (and even maybe RB’s odd traction control?). DAS is neat, but that F1’s immediate response is BAN IT speaks volumes.

        And yet we have ridiculously artificial nonsense like DRS, or limitations on how KERS could be used.

        I’d love to see a more open formula, where you could deploy as much energy as you’re capable of harvesting. Where you could have V12s fighting against hybrid i4s and whatever wins wins. Or cars with 12 tiny wheels, or three drivers, or whatever. Maybe the actual racing would suck, but it mostly sucks right now.

        But yeah – I’m looking forward to 2022, at least it’ll be an interesting change.

    2. these new hybrid motors (are) too complicated.

      Not too complicated if you realise it’s just a normal (injection) combustion engine with a dynamo connected to the driveshaft and a wind turbine in the exhaust.

      It’s only more technologically complex due to the revs and forces than simply connecting those devices yourself (but you could do it). And of course the dynamo is linked to a rechargeable battery (rather than a headlight) which can also reverse the current. And the wind turbine is incorporated into the fuel injector.

      .

      He doesn’t give a RatsAss about the engine except that it’s very noisy and it screams under power.

      For him and you there is still monster truck racing.

  5. Quibbling about engine noise and aesthetics, the politics and personalities is fair enough, it’s what us fans do however stepping back and appreciating the essence of our sport, the racing, then it’s been just ok for the last few years – not great and incrementally the wheel to wheel moments have been less and less. Indeed, too often they are DRS induced, a tool I have never liked as diluting the enjoyment. Better 1 genuine skilful, tense passing moment than a dozen DRS ones.
    In respect of the hybrid era, it’s councided with the Mercedes era which has overall dulled the competition at the front of the grid.
    Hybrid, turbo, electric, whatever, they’re bloody fast and create good motorsport although that said, I miss needing earplugs occasionally at a GP. Feeling it through your bones is magnificent and has brought tears to my eyes, and other fans nearby, many a time.

  6. I don’t see why we’re debating engine sound on this article. If you don’t like it.. stop watching F1.. or maybe go back to watching reruns wit V10 and V8 engines.

    I’m just glad that a team that has the capability of returning to front runner status, finally got a Mercedes PU. 2021 might not be great for them.. but 2022, I reckon Mclaren Mercedes will have it’s best season in a decade.

    1. @todfod I just want to see Mclaren and Ferrari again fighting for the wins. This is one step to the right direction.

  7. Cannot wait to see the RB16B test on track as well specially with Perez that needs to get familiar with the car quickly.

    Mercedes are the champions because no one puts in more test laps in than they do.

    1. RB16B will have the same livery even if it’s “traditional”.

  8. Boring with few visible changes at launch, but stable regs and evolutionary steps should mean convergence hopefully

  9. Back to the McLaren run of today …
    Watching a video of a car with a crew filming a video of the car … brilliant.
    Just needed a drone shot of the whole scene.
    What …?? No whining or complaining that McLaren has done a Tracing Point copy of the Mercedes nose for this year.?
    There must be something special about that particular shape.
    On a positive note, absolutely GREAT to see McLaren ahead of the game and running the new car, new engine and new driver a month ahead of testing. Hope this bodes well for the new season.

    1. What …?? No whining or complaining that McLaren has done a Tracing Point copy of the Mercedes nose for this year.?

      Maybe because they didn’t go as far as Tracing point in copying the rest of the car

    2. mclaren have been copying merc for 3 seasons now. the rp was a 2019 merc not a copy.

  10. I’m 40, and I agree that variety is missing in today’s cars. Or rather, visible and obvious variety. I don’t think we’ll ever see racing like it was in the 60’s and 70’s when anything goes (I wasn’t alive, but I like learning about the period). Computers make everything predictable. Even if they open up the rules more, teams would just run algorithms to test different permutations and eventually things would converge. I share the nostalgia for years ago when the cars screamed, drivers wrestled them, and there were more engine manufacturers. That won’t happen again but that’s kind of the appeal. It’s like when my father’s generation reminisces about the muscle-car era. Today’s cars are more reliable, safer, more efficient, more comfortable, way faster, and yes, a LOT quieter.

    Which brings me to my next point: I also appreciate the amazing engineering that goes into these cars. The PUs are marvels in terms of efficiency and output, and they last an astounding 7-8 races. That was unheard of just a few years ago. The aero is amazing as well. F1 is about progress. Even as refined as they are, I know I could never drive one. It would scare the life out of me. We don’t get to know everything because the constructors are understandably secretive but the mystery is interesting too.

    In terms of engine rules, I would like to see something akin to a minimum weight and maximum size, and let them have at it. I still think they would converge on what works, but there would be a year or two of experimentation.

    Anyway, I respect and get nostalgic for the V10 and V8 periods, I admire the 2014-now PUs, watch in amazement as drivers pilot these machines at speeds most of us would be terrified of, anticipate the small glimpses behind the curtains that we get. Bring on the 2021 season. I’m looking forward to it.

  11. Speaking of the livery, the sponsors must have a prominent say in the outlook of the car, I don’t believe the designers would do such a bad job. The orange on the sides of the monocoque is too wide and makes the car look boxy from practically any angle, while it is inexplicably thin, almost inexistent on the sidepots. The blue lines on the engine cover are totally out of place and ignore the natural flow of the car. Aesthetic-wise, McLaren will probably be among lowest ranked cars this year. And I say it as they fan of 18 years.

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