McLaren plan ‘conceptual changes’ for 2020

Jamie Woodhouse

McLaren have a "clear plan" to return to the top of F1.

McLaren technical director James Key says there will be some “conceptual changes” for their 2020 car as they look to tweak their philosophy.

2019 has shown signs finally of a McLaren recovery – they sit P4 in the Constructors’ Championship with a 22-point buffer over Renault behind, though catching the top three remains another big step away.

The team have cited performance in slow-speed corners as a concern this season and have worked on fixes throughout the campaign, with their upgrade back at the Spanish GP playing a large role in the MCL34’s development.

And despite a drastic change to the regulations set for 2021, Key hinted that McLaren could tweak their philosophy with next year’s challenger.

“I think there are some conceptual changes we need to look at, just because we’re looking forward,” he told Autosport.

“Even though there’s a reg change [in 2021] on the horizon potentially, we are looking forwards, and we want to see how we can begin to generate the performance that allows us to take genuine steps towards those at the front.

“Everyone around us is doing the same thing, so I think you need some conceptual changes for that.

“But in terms of the numbers surrounding the car, I think it’s actually not in a bad place.

“At a track like [Singapore] we’re still pretty quick in a straightline, so efficiency is still there, but we can generate, at least competing with the guys around us, the sort of downforce levels you need.

“So, I think fundamentally we won’t change the numbers surrounding it, but conceptually it will change a little bit.”

McLaren are in somewhat of an awkward position currently.

While they insist that they won’t compromise next year’s car to beat Renault this season, P4 remains very much on the line and the increased prize money and bragging rights that comes with it.

2020 is also then an important year for McLaren as they look to keep their momentum going, while 2021 then presents the team with their best chance of returning to the front of the grid.

Key admits that balancing the different phases of development is important and challenging.

“It’s a transition period, but I don’t think it’s one of those periods where there is a clear cut way,” he admitted.

“Sometimes you say we’re done for this year, either because it’s gone badly, or you’re doing okay, or you’re in no man’s land and not under threat.

“I think for us, the positive direction appears to be the case for the team this year.

“It kind of makes sense to continue that learning a little bit longer, but focusing on next year at the same time.”

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