McLaren 2023 F1 Car Assessment
The 2023 Formula 1 season is a crucial year for McLaren. It is well aware that its 2022 campaign did not begin as planned and that it had to devote a significant amount of time to addressing the issues encountered during testing before it could fully concentrate on enhancing the underlying design of the car.
The experience of overcoming those obstacles will have been a valuable lesson for the McLaren team and Lando Norris. Now it’s time for them to apply what they have learned and for Norris to take on a leadership role and guide the team forward.
Norris has demonstrated his speed, but assuming the responsibility as the veteran driver in the team significantly increases the importance of his ability to understand the direction the team must take to progress.
The images of the new car that have been released indicate that there are no significant visual modifications to the sidepod region compared to what was used during the latter part of the previous season.
One could argue that McLaren has simply built upon the basic design of its end-of-2022 concept, making some minor modifications and exaggerations along the way. The car features a radiator inlet similar to the one used by Ferrari, as well as a distinctive long sidepod front corner undercut.
There is much discussion about the benefits of longer wheelbases and/or shifting the front edge of the sidepods towards the rear in order to isolate this area from the disturbed air flow generated by the front tires.
I have not noticed any significant protuberances or dramatic changes, similar to how Mercedes addressed the issue last year by incorporating the side impact structure within the body panel that supported the rearview mirror. The regulations mandate that it must be housed within the body surface, so that solution was accepted, even though it involved a different body component but still considered as bodywork.
Based on the cars that have been unveiled so far, it is challenging to verify any modifications in this area. Any changes are likely to be in the range of tens of millimeters, rather than tens of centimeters. Although every detail counts, I believe that a change of at least 50 millimeters is necessary in order to see a noticeable improvement in performance.
McLaren has kept its pullrod front suspension and pushrod rear suspension systems (highlighted in red). The rear pushrod has a significant forward sweep to connect to the rear rocker.
The front suspension has very limited anti-dive or anti-lift characteristics. However, the rear suspension features anti-lift properties incorporated into the inner top wishbone pickups (highlighted in green), while the bottom wishbone may provide some anti-squat characteristics, although this cannot be determined from these images.
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This design will help maintain the rear of the car at a lower height during braking, but when the brakes are released, the rear ride height will increase more quickly to reach its desired position and support the vertical load.
The rapid change in the rear ride height can aid in car rotation, but the driver must have confidence that the rotation will come to an end just as quickly, allowing them to stabilize the car using the throttle as early as possible.
Aerodynamically, the details of the floor are difficult to discern as they are largely concealed by the black background used in most of the images released by McLaren. The front wing features a full-length slot gap between the first and second elements (indicated by the blue line), which helps maintain the attachment of air flow underneath the nose as it rises towards the nose-to-chassis interface.
McLaren 2023 F1 Assessment McLaren 2023 F1 Assessment
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