McLaren says it is hoping to start utilising its new wind tunnel at its Formula 1 factory in June.
The project has been several years in the making, with former team boss Andreas Seidl approving plans to upgrade McLaren’s infrastructure after his arrival in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic led to delays.
Construction of the wind tunnel has now been completed and McLaren is optimistic that the required checks can be completed in time to start using the new facility in late spring.
“We are hopeful to have the car in the wind tunnel – the new car – in June,” said McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella.
“The wind tunnel is already online for calibration [checks], it’s already commissioned, but there’s a process of calibration, installation of the methodologies, to measure the pressure and velocity field, the forces – this takes some weeks, that’s where we are.
“Hardware-wise it exists, the fan goes on and I can hear it from my office and it is reassuring like ‘wow we are making process’, but we can’t yet put the model in there for development.”
McLaren has been using Toyota’s facility in Cologne, Germany, and Stella is encouraged by the potential gains when everything can be moved in-house.
“It’s clearly a deficit,” said Stella. “It’s a deficit for many reasons – we spend millions to rent it, it’s a good wind tunnel, but F1 has some specificity in terms of methodology you need, and we are behind in terms of methodology.
“When we have a design, we produce the parts for the [wind tunnel] model, then there’s a van that drives to Cologne and we lose a couple of days.
“F1 is such a fast business that you can’t have this way of operating, so I don’t want to mention it too much as it sounds like an excuse, but it’s definitely a deficit in the quality and speed of the development.”
Stella nonetheless emphasised that “the wind tunnel along is not enough to justify the fact that the car is where it is.
“I think we could have done a better job independently of the wind tunnel; this is something we have acknowledged, and gives us good learning for future developments.”
McLaren, which failed to score points in Bahrain, is due to bring a heavily upgraded MCL60 to the fourth round of the year in Azerbaijan.