McLaren's Lowe and Goss on the MP4-26s design 04 Feb 2011
Following the launch of the MP4-26 in blustery Berlin, McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe and director of engineering Tim Goss discuss the new cars highlights, the team effort that went into its design and their hopes for 2011...
Q: What are the significant visual changes to the MP4-26?
Tim Goss: I think there are some novel features on the car - the long wheelbase and U-shaped sidepods are probably the most obvious examples. The thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower mainplane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double-diffuser. For 2011, KERS (hybrid) is now a single integrated unit that sits within the survival cell, beneath the fuel-tank. In 2009, it was housed in the sidepods. The hybrids cooling intake sits directly below the main roll-hoop intake. And, once again, weve really pushed the cars cooling configuration - weve got a second air intake on the engine cover for gearbox and hydraulic cooling.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges ahead of the 2011 season?
TG: For me, there have been two: recovering the rear downforce we lost following the banning of the double-diffuser, and fully exploiting the Pirelli tyres. The tyres only last for around 10 laps, and making them last longer is quite a challenge. So we need to look closely at how we configure the set-up and suspension to make the tyres last.
Paddy Lowe: Getting KERS back on the car was a big task. Collaborating with Mercedes GP to define the specification for Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines was very satisfying: there was great collaboration and cooperation between us. There can be lots of difficulties finding alignment between two teams, but Im pleased with how we made it happen and very happy with the outcome.
TG: The system was also more difficult to package because youve got to carry more fuel. That was the first challenge, but we got through that. There were a few difficult decisions concerning architecture around different aerodynamic concepts, but I think we ended up with a design layout were happy with.
Q: Youve both stressed the team-effort that has characterised the development of this car - does the recent restructure of the technical management reflect that?
PL: The restructure reflects Tims increased role within the engineering department, but its also been good to delegate the work around the next generation of senior engineers coming through in the company. For the MP4-26, weve distributed the workload around five or six senior engineers in different specialist areas - and thats a structure that will continue under Tims watch. Im really proud of the depth of talent that we can draw upon at McLaren Racing, and there have been some great opportunities for some new players to contribute directly to the car at a high level.
TG: And its not just good for them; its good for the company and good for the end-product. I think were going to make better cars because we have wider access to the horsepower available within the design system. Theyre all good guys and all have good ideas - its a cliche, but car design really is a team effort these days.
Q: What are your immediate aspirations as you roll out the MP4-26?
TG: We set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011. We always want to do more and were always very critical about performance, but we feel weve done a good job. Weve identified some areas where we can add performance to the car - over the next weeks, the task will be to get them on to the car and reliable by the first race. Thats the big challenge.
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