McLaren technical director James Key says the new MCL35 includes new concepts at both the front and rear, but remains true to lessons learned with last year’s Formula 1 car.
Key says that the in developing the 2019 MCL34, the team pursued ideas that it couldn’t incorporate because of limitations such as the existing suspension geometry, but which have now been introduced on the new model.
“New concepts were being looked at alongside what we’d learned from 34, as the year was going by last year,” said Key.
“We have changed a few areas.
“The bodywork is following a trend I think we’ve seen increasingly, with a very narrow sidepod, which is quite an exercise in packaging. You have to plan quite early for that sort of thing, because it involves the engine installation and so on.
“We’ve done a similar exercise with the gearbox, to match that philosophy.
“There’s been a lot of work on rear suspension too, so I suppose from the cockpit backwards there’s a very different approach to what we’ve had before – that’s really where the conceptual side of things was.
“Equally there’s a lot of technologies around the front which were only possible to do with the new car. That’s the new stuff, but having said that it’s based around, although not entirely based around, what we learned last year.
“The 34 is very much the father of much of the concept of the [MCL35] as well. We’ve tried to carry forward what we learned last year as we were going – it was being designed as we were developing the other car, so it was a bit of a process.
“We had what we felt were opportunities we couldn’t do with the 34 with the geometry we had.”
Key says that the team set “realistic” targets for the new car, and has pinpointed weaknesses by identifying where both it and the other midfield teams were losing out to the top three.
“You have to to have a target to work to, because you need to figure out where you need to be. One of those is to get to the front, but that’s a huge step, compared to where we are now.
“To do that in a year would be very welcome but a massive step. There were certain targets based on what we learned last year, where we found our weaknesses that we really wanted to address.
“And we could see some of those weaknesses were quite similar across the teams we were competing with, so we’ve been looking closely at those kinds of areas, and we have made some progress there.
“The medium term target is to maintain our position and hopefully close the gap a bit and build on that. If we can be in that place, I think we’ll achieve the realistic target that we have.”
Key added that joining other teams in adopting a matte paint job has helped to save a little weight.