Budget cap triggered design ‘rethink’ at McLaren

Jamie Woodhouse
The McLaren MCL26 is launched along with other McLaren cars. February 2022.

McLaren MCL36 in the foreground as the team launches three cars ahead of the new season. February 2022.

McLaren were left asking themselves plenty of tough questions when designing the MCL36 due to the budget cap.

All-new regulations for the 2022 Formula 1 season left teams starting from scratch when designing their new cars, which in the past could have been done within a financial limit set only by the team themselves.

Now though, that is no longer the case with teams capped at spending $140m on the chassis side for 2022, a drop from $145m in 2021, the first season when the budget cap was in operation.

That meant McLaren could not be in any way wasteful with their resources, the same ringing true for their in-season development as they operate at cost-cap level for 2022.

Speaking before the launch of the MCL36, Autosport quote McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl as saying: “The big challenge obviously getting ready for this new season was to develop a completely new car under completely new technical regulations from scratch, in parallel to the cost cap being in place for the first time last year.

“It meant we had to question quite a lot. A lot of things we were used to from the past in terms of approach, in terms of how to manufacture parts as well, how to design them, in order to make manufacturing simpler, for example, using cheaper materials when possible.

“There was a big rethink going on in terms of the number of parts you want to produce per specification, which brought a lot of new aspects to many ways that we were doing things in the past.”

The McLaren MCL36 from wing level. February 2022.
The McLaren MCL36 from the front wing level. February 2022.

McLaren’s technical director James Key also drew attention to various other areas of change which have made the 2022 campaign truly a “blank sheet of paper” in many ways.

It has been well documented that on top of the regulatory changes for the cars, which have moved to a ground-effect aerodynamic philosophy, the 13-inch Pirelli tyres have also been traded in for new 18-inch specifications.

Key explained that in addition, the “safety measures” have “changed quite considerably” for the 2022 cars, an area he feels has not been focused on as widely.

“We’ve got [new 18-inch] tyres and the regulations in the background,” he explained.

“We often talk about how the sport is regulated technically but that’s all changed as well.

“[There are] new safety measures, which aren’t often touched on, but that’s changed quite considerably for these cars, and also all the visible side with the aerodynamics and so on.

“It’s definitely a blank sheet of paper in a lot of places.”

 

The first test with the new 2022 cars will be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from February 23-25, with the official pre-season test held in Bahrain from March 10-12.

 

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