McLaren has revealed that the importance of getting as much clean air as possible over the lower plane of the rear wing was the catalyst for the radical sidepod design on its new MP4-26.
The team caused a stir on Friday when its new 2011 challenger featured some innovative design concepts – especially the raised U-shape sidepods. McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe said the team had pushed so hard in this area of the car design because it wanted to recover a lot of the downforce lost due to the ban on double diffusers.
"I think there are some novel features on the car – the long wheelbase and U-shaped sidepods are probably the most obvious examples," said Lowe. "The thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower main plane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double diffuser."
McLaren engineering director Tim Goss reckoned that as well as pushing hard to find downforce, one of the key factors for success in 2011 will be in having a car that is well suited to the new Pirelli tires.
"For me, there have been two: recovering the rear downforce we lost following the banning of the double diffuser, and fully exploiting the Pirelli tires," he explained. "The tires only last for around 10 laps, and making them last longer is quite a challenge. So we need to look closely at how we configure the setup and suspension to make the tires last.
"We set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011. We always want to do more and we're always very critical about performance, but we feel we've done a good job. We've identified some areas where we can add performance to the car – over the next weeks, the task will be to get them on to the car and reliable by the first race. That's the big challenge."