Technical F1 Unlocked
TECH TUESDAY: McLaren's aggressive solutions to the challenges of 2023
McLaren brought significant floor upgrades to Baku and Miami in an attempt to claw back some performance. But what do these upgrades consist of? Mark Hughes explains, with a technical illustration from Giorgio Piola.
McLaren have run the last two races with an upgraded floor, planned even before the car was launched when the team admitted they had been late in understanding a particular implication of the floor height regulation tweak, but now that they did, they would need to reconfigure things. The new floor, introduced in Baku and raced also in Miami, represents that change.
The inference from the external changes we can see are that the tunnel shape within the floor has been totally redrawn, with accompanying changes to the floor edge appropriate to the tunnel’s new profile. The bodywork surrounding the tunnel inlet has also been significantly narrowed, which will have implications upon the airflow around the floor edges.
What these changes are aiming to do is redistribute the underfloor airflow, with the team’s car presentation submission in Baku stating: “The new floor geometry significantly alters local suction distribution as well as floor structure strength and positioning, resulting in an overall gain of load.”
McLaren feel that they were particularly badly affected by the 2023 regulation tweak of raising the rear floor edge and diffuser because they had evolved their tunnel profile around a more rearwards placing of the floor edge cut-out and vortex generators than most others. The raising of the floor ahead of the rear wheels made that rearwards placement of the vortex generators less powerful.
Although this year’s MCL60 was launched with a more forward-sited cut-out than last year’s, more in line with everyone else, the way it had evolved its tunnel profiling had been based around the previous philosophy.
The new tunnel profile aims to further fully exploit the more forward siting of the vortex generators and the accompanying changes have been designed to help energise that airflow. This is all trying to maximise the speed of airflow through the tunnels.
Inlet bodywork narrowed
Although the inlet tunnel remains the same width as previously, it can be seen that the surrounding bodywork of the inlet – beneath the sidepod – has been tightened considerably, to the extent that it has been necessary to incorporate a bulge to accommodate the lower side impact beam.
Previously, this section of bodywork appeared to be out-washing the airflow away from the car, which would then be channelled towards the rear bodywork ahead of the rear wheels, making the rear of the car work harder.
Now it looks as if priority has instead been given to energising the floor edge airflow much further forwards. There is less blockage for the airflow as it makes its way to the cut-out section of the floor edges.
There is an accompanying enhancement of the flick-up winglet just before the line of vortex generators, further suggesting McLaren is trying to energise the airflow early.
Rear floor changes
It can be seen in Giorgio Piola’s drawings how the section of floor ahead of the rear wheels has been significantly changed. There is a tighter in-sweep of floor bodywork and the ‘tongue’ cut-out which releases pressure build up from tyre squirt has been opened out.
McLaren reported that the changes have added downforce to the car without changing the aerodynamic balance. However, their poor showing in Miami leads the team to believe that development needs to be concentrated on the cars’ poor performance on low-grip surfaces where the drivers cannot be as aggressive on the brakes or throttle.
A further series of upgrades to this package is scheduled for introduction over the Canadian and British Grand Prix weekends.