Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Tech analysis: The 12 key changes on the McLaren MP4-31

Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield give their verdict on one of the most hotly-anticipated cars of 2016: the McLaren-Honda MP4-31.

Tech analysis: The 12 key changes on the McLaren MP4-31

Despite a pretty disappointing campaign in 2015, McLaren and its drivers remain optimistic that things will be very different for the second year of their partnership with Honda.

Indeed, the problems with last year's package were so fundamental, and changes needed so extensive, that it seems logical to suggest that big jumps should come for the season ahead.

At the online launch of the new car, McLaren talked about 'all-new innovations' on the car – although offered little detail about what exactly they were.

Here we look at the key points of interest on the car.

1. The nose borders on the shortest 'thumb' design we have seen, with the extreme slope back to the bulkhead mitigated by the continued use of the split 'S' duct.

2. Like the other launch cars we have seen, the front wing is a carry over from last season and may be revised before Melbourne.

Red Arrow: The MP4-31 might not be full of innovate new parts but it does have some nice detail touches.

A small duct has been placed in the front wing pylons, allowing airflow to pass from the outer to inner surface. This is likely quite important given the length of the pillars and how the airflow needs to be controlled.

3. The Vulcan-finger style front brake duct is retained by McLaren as it clearly sees the benefits it has on shaping the airflow around the tyre. However, like Mercedes did last year, it has tacked another duct on to it.

 

McLaren MP4-31 detail
McLaren MP4-31 detail

Photo by: McLaren

4. The inlet for the 'S' duct, under the nose, has been enlarged, which should allow more airflow to pass through the duct to the upper surface, overcoming the nose's steep inclination.

5. The steering arm has been mounted in front of the upper wishbones front arm. This reduces blockage and increases the surface area with which the team can condition the airflow rearward.

6. The team has retained the blown axle which takes airflow from the brake duct and passes through the hollow axle, controlling how the tyre wake is shed.

7. The upper rear arm of the wishbone is placed much lower than the forward section, suggesting the team is in search of aerodynamic gains from it. This is a novel solution from McLaren and not something that myself nor Giorgio can recollect being done before. 

McLaren MP4-31 detail
McLaren MP4-31 detail

Photo by: McLaren

8. The sidepod shape, inlet and aerodynamic control devices are all very similar to the car's predecessor.

9. The floor slots introduced in Singapore last year are shown on the launch version of the car but it is an area that continues to interest teams, and could be amended going forward.

10. The rear section of the sidepods and engine cover seem to remain relatively unchanged, suggesting that Honda has kept true to its word on the retention of a size-zero philosophy.

11. McLaren has returned to a standard suspension geometry for 2016 having utilised the butterfly style suspension blockers in 2014 and retaining the offset rear leg in 2015. The gearbox will have also been redesigned, changing the placement of the suspension pick up points.

 

2014 McLaren MP4-29 rear butterfly suspension
2014 McLaren MP4-29 rear butterfly suspension

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

12. Like the Ferrari and Mercedes-powered cars, the Honda power unit will utilise two wastegate exhausts, in this case either side of the main exhaust.

However, what has really grabbed our attention is that it has taken a design cue from Toro Rosso, intersecting the main exhaust with the rear wing's central mounting pylon.

This not only brings structural stability but also acts as a flow stabiliser for the exhaust plume.

 

The rear wing of the Toro Rosso STR10 support pylon on the STR10 intersects with the exhaust
The rear wing of the Toro Rosso STR10 support pylon on the STR10 intersects with the exhaust

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

shares
comments
Haas launches its first ever F1 car

Previous article

Haas launches its first ever F1 car

Next article

Mercedes: 2016 Technical briefing with Paddy Lowe

Mercedes: 2016 Technical briefing with Paddy Lowe
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event McLaren MP4-31 launch
Teams McLaren
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021