Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

McLaren to keep “drip-feeding” updates onto 2021 car

2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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McLaren will continue to bring updates for their 2021 car after introducing a new front wing and floor at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The team’s technical director James Key said this was their first substantial update following a series of minor tweaks to their MCL35M.

“We’ve been bringing little bits and pieces from the start of the season with our race one-spec car, which we tested in Bahrain before we hit Bahrain for the race at the beginning of the year.

“Since then, we’ve been doing sort of minor updates as we’ve gone through. This race was the first to introduce heavier steps that we wanted to make.”

Changes to F1’s regulations for 2021 created some significant opportunities for development, said Key. “We had a tweak on the front wing architecture, it’s a new front wing and the floor as well, where the regulations really kicked in at the side of the floor.

“That’s still an area which is ripe for development and it’s still quite raw, I think you kind of see a theme beginning to develop there. But there’s still plenty of performance to be found in some of these fresher areas.”

Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021
McLaren ran their new parts during the race
The team ran back-to-back tests of their new parts during practice. “We had a lot of work to do to make sure we were happy with how the parts are working, tune the cars to them, give the drivers the opportunity to back to back and we’ve kept the spec that we brought,” Key explained.

“So we have updated the car with the new parts, which is great news and an excellent effort from all the guys in the aero and everyone factory to design it and push it through the production process to get it here on time and give us the sets that we needed.”

The new components were used in the race and Key added there will be “some more parts coming” in the future. “We haven’t finished the 35M yet, there’s a few updates still to come. There’s some still in a conceptual place at the moment as well and we’ll be bringing those as we go along.

“There’s no set target events, at the moment, for any of them – we’ll put them on the car when they seem to be ready and available to test, in some cases that the right kind of track. Monaco isn’t always the best place to bring certain things so they may be delayed for the following circuits and so on and keep sort of drip-feeding the car with new bits.”

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2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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7 comments on “McLaren to keep “drip-feeding” updates onto 2021 car”

  1. Its hard to expect any immediate impacts from these drip updates but Mclaren are so far doing a very good job.
    Thoroughly speculating here–i think they have what it takes to end up on the podium in Monaco should they qualify well (2nd row). Especially Lando…

    1. @webtel
      I think it might be the complete opposite for McLaren. They might struggle a lot in Monaco as their car’s strength is efficient downforce, which means they are fast on straights and through fast corners. But that’s not important at Monaco. You need a responsive front end and good traction out of the slow corners and that’s where McLaren have been struggling so far this season. I even doubt they will be able to match Alpine in Monaco. The track just doesn’t suit their low-drag design, unlike Bahrain and Imola.

      1. I agree, some people are even talking about how they’ll have a chance at a win in Monaco with Ricciardo, I think their best bets for podiums/wins/front rows are going to be Baku (maybe), Monza, and Spa.

  2. STOP! Don’t make the same mistake you made in 2012, although it were justified by the title fight then. This gen of cars are no longer important to us. Focus on 2022 so that we can fight for the championship. Maybe it will lose us 3rd in the constructors. But being behind in 2022 could hurt us for almost a decade. The trade-off is clear.

  3. They probably have a very small team working on very obvious problem areas that don’t require significant resources to fix and 90% of their personnel and resources are focuses on 2022. That makes sense and is efficient because, don’t forget, there is a lot of prize and potential sponsor money at stake in the 2021 season which will be determined by their performance this season. They’ll need that money for developing their next gen chassis.

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