Jambier wrote: ↑
Mon May 09, 2022 12:39 pm
Really a strange season so far.
Still P4 in constructors, that is the best possible this year to be honest, but really strange car... do you think the front suspension solution might be a cause ?
They are the biggest disappointment this year along Alpine
Not a strange car imo. It seems like they have apparently achieved what they wanted. They have made the car a bit more balanced. You just have to ignore Bahrain and look at the other races, because Bahrain was hampered by a multitude of different issues.
Now, if you look at the mini-sectors on the rest of the races, they are indeed closer in slow-speed corners compared to previous years, so the gap to the top is no longer strictly because of a single weak area. Based on what they learned from previous years, they tried to sacrifice some of that very competitive high-speed performance (and general low-drag), for some low-speed performance going into the new regulations. But what they have realized after Bahrain though was that they are lacking underfloor (clean) downforce compared to most teams. I feel like this is a case of missing a reference. They came up with something that felt satisfactory during development, and they had no way of knowing if it was enough until they started racing.
To cope with this lack of underfloor downforce, they have jacked up wings which obviously brings a lot of drag alongside the downforce. Another issue with downforce generated by wings is that you can't keep piling on angle of attack, because at some point, it becomes ineffective. So not only are they suffering a huge drag penalty at the moment, their "level of downforce" ceiling is also much lower than other teams.
And there are other issues as well with this approach, which hurts the overall balance of the car. If the floor generates a satisfactory amount of downforce, you actually have room to play with the wing levels. Maybe giving it a bit less front and more rear (or vice versa) to alter the balance according to the circuit type. But McLaren cannot do this at the moment (at least not to the same level as other teams), because for them the downforce generated by the wings is much more important.
Overall, this is a much more balanced car than previous years. Instead of lacking a significant amount on one single area, it lacks a small amount across different areas (some of which are emphasized by their overall lack of downforce), which adds up to about the same deficit they have had previously I would say. I think McLaren has a lot of room for improvement. If they increase the efficiency of the floor it will open up a lot of different paths towards unlocking more pace in that car.
I just hope their current concept allows for significant upgrades to that underfloor performance.