The first three Formula 1 races of the 2020 season proved that McLaren have taken a step forward with its MCL35, which has twice started inside the top three on the grid in Austria and delivered a podium finish for Lando Norris.
In Hungary, however, there was a slight drop in McLaren’s performance compared to the first two races, though it still scored some points.
The Budapest track is perhaps less well suited to the technical characteristics of the MCL35, where it fell behind its closest competitor, Racing Point. It now sits just one point ahead of the so-called ‘Pink Mercedes’, which occupies fourth in the standings.
McLaren chose not to bring many technical innovations to the third race, but instead it opted to confirm the package and innovations it raced in Austria, by seeing how they fared on a different circuit.
The main differences were centred around the rear, with the introduction of the double-plane ‘T-Wing’ (1), already seen in the pre-season tests in Barcelona. This choice was obviously combined with the high-load rear wing, which is a requirement the Hungaroring.
The main differences compared to the McLaren seen in February centre on the cooling. The team adopted a wider engine cover at the rear with a larger opening (2), to allow the Renault engine to breathe better, which has proved to be fairly reliable so far.
A horizontal wing (3) has been added to the rear of the engine cover, to ‘clean’ the air flow.. This small aerodynamic element appeared at the Styrian GP, and was confirmed on both cars in Budapest.
The new diffuser (4) seen at the first race was also confirmed and is different from what McLaren used during the tests. The carbon elements of the diffuser have a gentler and less angular shape.
In Hungary, however, the new floor used only by Carlos Sainz in Styria was rejected. It featured a large air slot in front of the rear wheels. The previous specification was used for the entire Budapest Grand Prix weekend on both cars.