McLaren is in full battle with Ferrari for third place in the Constructors’ Standings, and the Woking team is looking to make its final changes to its MCL35M, before finally turning the page to focus on 2022.
Budapest is a circuit that is not exactly favourable to the characteristics of the MCL35M, which is more at ease in high-speed circuits such as Silverstone.
The long wheelbase of the MCL35M does not make it agile in the changes of direction the Hungaroring circuit demands, but some Saturday magic from Norris in qualifying allowed the Englishman to line up sixth, ahead of rivals Ferrari.
The development of the papaya car also continued in Hungary, where it was possible to see technical innovations on the MCL35M in the area of the bargeboards as it seeks cleaner airflow.
The car, designed by James Key, is continuing development and aerodynamic refinement, despite the fact that almost all the teams are now focused on building their 2022 cars, which we know will be completely different from the current cars.
The Woking aerodynamicists have carried out extensive research and flow management work in the central area of the bargeboards, extensively modifying the design with a boomerang-shaped element (arrow) to seek a greater downwash effect.
The search for the greatest down wash of the air flow that hits the sides of the MCL35M has the purpose of increasing the air flow rate that will then hit the lateral portion of the floor, an area in which the engineers are looking in every way to increase its contribution to downforce.
The new 2021 rules, which limited the downforce coming from the floor and the diffuser, were a puzzle to solve for the engineers in an attempt to immediately recover the lost vertical load.
McLaren in the floor area have already intervened several times this season, introducing the Z-cut in Spain, and then introducing a series of flow deviators at the recent double races in Austria.
The development work of Norris and Ricciardo’s car continued in Silverstone and Hungary, with the introduction of bargeboards which should increase the efficiency of the floor brought to Austria. At Silverstone and Hungary, however, the shape in front of the rear wheel was simplified, with the curved element disappearing.
The high asphalt temperatures recorded in Hungary (over 60°C)saw Ferrari’s SF21 suffering the most from the slippery conditions, which aided McLaren on Saturday.
The Mercedes Power Unit also allows McLaren to have an advantage in terms of power and cooling management. Ferrari, albeit as a precaution, had to implement the third engine unit on Carlos Sainz’s car.
The great heat in Budapest did not make those with Mercedes Power Units suffer much, with McLaren itself remaining quite closed in the engine cover.
During the weekend at the Hungaroring, all three engine cover configurations used during the season were tested on the single-seater of Norris and Ricciardo. The final choice fell on the intermediate solution (3), which is still quite narrow in the rear dimensions, compared to those who use non-Mercedes Power Units.
After Budapest, the summer break will allow McLaren to have a broader picture of the budget cap situation, and to identify further possible areas of development of the MCL35M. With Norris the English team held the personal record of consecutive races in the points. The consistency of the performance obtained on each track, with very solid races, give McLaren ample chance of being third in the constructors at the end of the season.