While McLaren changes engine manufacturer between 2020 and 2021, James Key explained that the team could benefit from the “fantastic” support of Mercedes to face the shortened deadlines related to this situation.
2020 was the last year for Mclaren with Renault, engine manufacturer chosen in 2018 to overcome the deadlock and catastrophic years with Honda. The French company has had its share of credit in the gradual recovery of the team by bringing it a certain serenity and by supporting its internal restructuring.
Last year, the culmination of this partnership saw the British manufacturer finish third in the standings, pocketing two podiums in the process. But when it comes time to make a choice for the post-2020 period and with the ambitious goal of eventually returning to the top, McLaren turned to its former long-time partner, Mercedes.
However, this change, which was to take place at the same time as a regulatory revolution initially scheduled for 2021, must ultimately be made between two seasons when the chassis are largely frozen. The arrival of the new regulations has indeed been postponed to avoid placing the stables in a situation of economic tension even though a health and financial crisis is affecting the world with COVID-19.
For McLaren, on a technical level, the challenge is all the more met since a long shutdown of factories took place in the spring and the MCL35 was designed for the Renault engine. A situation (global and specific) which created “obvious delays” during the design phase of the single-seater, according to James Key, the technical director of the Woking team. However, he judges that she is now in “good posture”, thanks in particular to the invaluable help of the German brand.
“We would have liked to start earlier than we did [en 2020]. We obviously didn’t start as early as we would have liked … but I think we have caught up well. The interaction with Mercedes has been fantastic; they were very supportive, they took into account that we had tight deadlines. And we have worked with them very effectively over the past few months. “
“And I think we are where we expected to be in terms of the maturity of the engine installation and the parts we are already making. [pour la saison 2021]”, he added in a podcast for F1 a few weeks ago.
In addition to the issue of changing the engine, we also have to deal with relatively significant regulatory changes, particularly with regard to the flat bottom, but also the entry into force of the Financial Regulations which now limit a certain number of expenses to 145 million euros. dollars over the year. Also, even “if the full regulations for 2021 have arrived late enough”, McLaren is hard at work to try to take advantage of these developments.
“We are recovering [l’appui perdu] ; it was a pretty big loss at the start “, added Key. “The changes to the flat bottom, compared to the side profile, will be pretty obvious on the 2021 car; the small diffuser, the rear brake scoops … They all influence a complex area of aerodynamics around the rear tire and it it’s really about trying to recover [l’appui] as best we can, and we’re making progress every week at the moment, but there is still work to be done. “