After a big loss to Mercedes-AMG Petronas last year and two successful cars, McLaren’s F1 design has turned a corner and McLaren presented a dynamic new car for the 2020 season.
During a V12 months, when Mercedes-AMG Racing split and McLaren-Honda replaced it as the Formula One team partner, there was hope that McLaren would return to the podium.
In 2018, McLaren advanced two positions and ended the season as the runner-up. In 2019, however, the team finished fourth and finished ahead of Ferrari for the first time in recent years.
Even more importantly, in its last F1 season in 2013, Honda went to the races and went through a serious pit-stop error every race that cost it too many crucial laps of track time. This time, McLaren made a high-tech pit-stop technology available to AMG-Honda Racing, which was a major success, while the whole McLaren team put in an extra work on race track behavior.
During a race, McLaren knew from technology they were building and developing just how long it would take the drivers to change an engine, as well as knowing how hard the drivers would work for each hot patch or maintenance stop. This year, the improvement in driveability is visible at every pit stop in races.
After the visit to America, Barrie Cadman, McLaren’s Chief Technical Officer, detailed, “We’re off to Germany, and then it’s our pole in Australia in March. We’ve had some incredible fun up in the States and so it was the perfect opportunity to test cars before we get down to business in Europe.”
F1 teams have to meet strict regulations about engines, efficiency, aerodynamics, and safety to take part in the season. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Larry Jackson, Vice President of Formula One’s Committee for Competitiveness, assured, “I’m not worried about engines. The reality is that we have optimized and for the year 2019, we’ve seen record-setting efficiency in the engine sphere. Really what’s happening is the car is driving the engine.”
Together with Ferrari and Renault, McLaren are working on a new platform based on the A2, which will debut in 2021 for the 2021-2022 season. “The A2 platform is the foundation for the next era of F1,” Cadman said, “It will support the ultimate availability of digital technologies and create an advanced V6 turbo hybrid engine capable of powering all drivers through on-demand driving.”
Cadman said, “In the coming months, the FIA, the FIA Driver Selection Commission, the FIA F1 Forum, along with the teams and FIA Team of the Year will evaluate options for a new engine supplier, which means that the starting season for the 2021-2022 Formula One season is far from set.”
Before 2021, the next steps in the F1 landscape will be approved by the FIA, which will set policies about the direction of the sport. Race track pit stops will continue to improve, and the most important question that remains is who will be the team with the most pit-stop efficiency this season?