McLaren keen to evade “peaky” 2018 car


Credit: McLaren Media Centre

McLaren F1 Team technical director Tim Goss has said that McLaren are looking to produce a more driver-friendly and balanced car for Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne in 2018 after performance difficulties plagued their 2017 Formula 1 championship.

McLaren are facing a first year in partnership with engine suppliers Renault Sport, after cutting off ties with Honda after a dismal three year reconciliation, and Goss says that the design team have worked hard on rectifying the wrongs of the MCL32 in order to have a competitive package.

“So much of producing a great F1 car these days is giving the driver a car that they can exploit,” Goss said whilst speaking to Motorsport.com.

“There is no point in giving them a car with very peaky performance.

“What we are trying to do is give the driver something that operates very well over a broad envelope.”

Goss also said that the team had attempted to approach the new era in 2017 in the same way, not looking for performance straight away, but opting to get a full understanding of the car first.

“Initially, we are not worried about what level of performance we are going to put on the car.

“What we wanted to do [last year] was understand the flow physics and try to get good, well-behaved aerodynamics across the range of the operating envelope of yaw/steer/roll and ride-height.

“Our approach these days is very much about giving the driver something they can trust and work with, and peaky load is in our view not the way to produce a quick aerodynamic package for the driver, or vehicle dynamics change.”

McLaren’s 2017 was blighted by poor power output from the Honda power unit, but they sided on not counteracting the issue  with low drag set-ups. Whilst Alonso used his experience to drive around the car’s obvious flaws, Vandoorne struggled in his first full season, registering his first points finish in Hungary, the eleventh round of the year. The breakthrough coincided with an upturn in form for the team, but soon after the summer break they slumped down the field once more.

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

“Even trimming a bit of downforce off the car and trimming to a lower wing level, we were still not going to get our car to the point where we have that [performance] in a straight line,” he added.

“So our approach has been to always go for the quickest laptime and our tactics coming to a race weekend were to qualify as well as we can, and then aim to defend that position based on laptime. In some races that was extremely difficult.

“We improved the car quite considerably around the Hungarian GP, had a great race in Hungary and then got to Belgium and just went backwards.

“We had zero ability to defend in a straight line.

“Rather than put sticking plasters to try to cope with the fact that we had an underpowered engine, what we really wanted to do is develop the best car and assume the engine is going to come.”