Without a wheel even being turned for the 2021 Formula 1 season, McLaren’s focus will immediately switch to development of its ’22 car ahead of wholesale changes to the technical regulations.
F1 teams had already begun development on their ’22 cars as they were supposed to race next year, but following the pandemic it was agreed that delaying their introduction by a year was a sensible decision on cost grounds.
As part of that agreement, the FIA imposed a development freeze, meaning certain aspects of the ’22 cars couldn’t be worked, but that ban will lift in the New Year, allowing development programmes to resume, and McLaren isn’t wasting any time according to technical director James Key.
“We’ll be back in the wind tunnel immediately at the start of next year to continue work on the ’22 car – we’ve got plenty of developments to look at and lots of new concepts floating around too.
“There’s a real blank sheet of paper approach to the ’22 car – the chassis regulations are fundamentally different, and the wheels and tyres are changing too. We’ve been working on it for some time now.
“Every team was expecting to race these cars in ’21, so I think everyone had got to a pretty advanced stage before the aero development freeze kicked in this year. That hasn’t stopped mechanical design or simulation work taking place though. Our gearbox design, for example, is very mature now.”
Key believes the pause in development has enabled his team to take a step back and assess new concepts and ideas which he’s excited to get working on.
“The development freeze bought everyone a bit of thinking time. It allowed us to take a step back and really analyse the data and what we’ve done.
“It’s still early days though, there’s plenty more to learn about what the true potential of a ‘22 F1 car is and this learning process will continue for a while.
“It’s always a great challenge having significantly different technical regulations to work to. They represent a fresh start and provide new opportunities for design and development which, as engineers, is incredibly motivating. 2021 will be a busy year with a full season to complete, the MCL35M to develop and race, and new discoveries to make with our ‘22 contender as it evolves – we can’t wait for it to start!”