McLaren end key partnership as plan with ‘significant gains’ nears completion

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren's Lando Norris at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps, July 2023.

McLaren's Lando Norris at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps, July 2023.

McLaren are now gearing up to begin using their brand new wind tunnel, which has meant waving goodbye to Toyota after more than a decade using their facility.

Despite mumblings of Formula 1 teams moving away from the use of wind tunnels in the future, their role in the design and upgrading of Formula 1 challengers remains essential, with McLaren the latest team to re-enforce that fact.

As part of their mission to return to being a leading team once more, McLaren have developed their own wind tunnel at the McLaren Technology Centre, having used Toyota’s facility in Cologne since 2011.

McLaren thanks Toyota for the memories and bid farewell

And with the facility now nearing its completion, McLaren have ended this association with Toyota, team principal Andrea Stella ensuring to state the team’s gratitude for this partnership and reminiscing in its successes over the years.

“Toyota Europe’s wind tunnel and facilities have played a key role in the development of McLaren’s single-seaters over the past 12 years,” said Stella, as per Motorsport.com.

“The cars we have developed in these facilities will have won 14 grands prix and scored a further 29 podium finishes between 2011 and 2013.”

“TGR-E’s support has been invaluable to our success. We have established a good working relationship between the McLaren team and the staff at the site.

“Now that we are moving towards commissioning our own wind tunnel, which offers significant gains and aligns with the new structure being built within the team, we would like to acknowledge the work that has been done in the TGR-E wind tunnel and which has been instrumental in the team’s progress in the past.”

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Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe’s managing director Rob Leupen added: “Our doors remain open to McLaren.

“We wish them every success with their new wind tunnel and, although this changes the services required from TGR-E and the frequency with which McLaren engineers are likely to come to Cologne, we have an open dialogue and play a constructive role in the process of integrating their new wind tunnel for the development programme.”

David Coulthard issues warning to McLaren on new wind tunnel

Coulthard, who drove for the McLaren team from 1996-2004, moved to alert McLaren that developing a brand new wind tunnel is not an absolute guarantee of success.

He would point to another F1 team which he formerly raced for as proof, that being Red Bull, who have established themselves as Formula 1’s dominant force despite their wind tunnel having been around since the 1960s.

“A lot of teams talk about bringing in new wind tunnels, I think McLaren are saying the new wind tunnel is going to sort all their problems, well, Red Bull use a wind tunnel from the ’60s,” said Coulthard on Channel 4.

“So it’s not just how new your wind tunnel is, it’s about how predictable and repeatable the information is that gives them such an aero-efficient car.”

While F1 2023’s runaway leaders Red Bull are way out of reach, McLaren will hold ambitions of challenging for the P2 spot in the Constructors’ standings, with their B-Spec MCL60 having fired them up the order to compete with Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari in that ‘best of the rest’ battle.

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