‘No trickery or loophole’ with McLaren diffuser

Date published: March 14 2021

Lando Norris, McLaren

McLaren’s diffuser on the MCL35M has attracted much attention during pre-season testing – but no loopholes have been exploited, says renowned F1 designer Gary Anderson.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will have been highly encouraged by the running they enjoyed in Bahrain, the McLaren appearing both reliable and quick with its new Mercedes engine.

But another factor in what could potentially lead to the Woking-based team closing the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull this year is the diffuser, a key aerodynamic component which has generated big improvements in the past – notably with Brawn’s double World Championship triumph in 2009.

The contentious aspect with the McLaren diffuser is the length of the strakes, which were mandated to be 50mm shorter this year as part of the regulation changes designed to reduce downforce by 10%.

The strakes on the McLaren visibly appear to be longer than 50mm and reports claim the team have found a loophole by attaching them to the centre of the floor, which has been lengthened.

However, Anderson, designer for the Jordan and Stewart F1 teams, believes McLaren should have nothing to worry about if any objections are raised.

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In a column for The Race, Anderson said: “We have been hearing lots of talk about the legality of the McLaren diffuser during testing and whether the team have found a way around the new limitation on the length of diffuser strakes imposed for this season.

“But under my reading of the regulations it is completely legal and there’s no trickery or loophole involved.

“As long as its longer strakes are the two inboard ones and inside 250mm from the car centreline on either side then that’s fine. This is because the modified regulations for 2021 only cover outside of that width.”

If it turns out Anderson is correct and the McLaren diffuser is completely within the rules, the obvious consequence would be for other teams to try and replicate what they have done.

But Anderson is unconvinced the diffuser in isolation will have a huge effect on competitiveness, saying: “No individual item will be the make or break of any of these cars, it will be the sum of all the parts working together that will make one package stand out from the other.

“So just going off copying an individual concept will not always bring the rewards you think it should.”

Also, it will be far from easy to emulate the McLaren diffuser before the start of the season, which is less than two weeks away, due to it being such an integral part of the design and time being so short.

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