McLaren has confirmed that it has had to modify its car to avoid falling foul of the more stringent flexible bodywork tests being introduced at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, but says it has managed to turn the change into a performance upgrade.
As part of the range of measures taken to address the controversy over allegedly flexible wings, cars will be subjected to extra tests to their floors from Monza.
Tim Goss, chief engineer on McLaren's MP4-25, acknowledged that the new tests would be much tougher for the team than the front wing checks that were ramped up for Spa.
"We haven't had to make any modifications to front wings in terms of bodywork flexibility," he said. "As far as the 'bib' is concerned, the new offset load test is challenging and we've had to make minor modifications just to make sure that we're well inside the deflection limits that the FIA is going to set on that. We've modified our bib, and we've taken the opportunity to roll it up into a minor performance upgrade."
He believes the Monza changes will have forced the entire pit lane into modifying their cars.
"I think as far as the offset bib test is concerned, I would expect most teams would probably have had to make changes to comply with that," Goss said. "As far as articulated planks are concerned, there are a number of teams that run floor-skids in multiple pieces and the FIA have tightened up on that to ban articulated skid blocks. I'd imagine other teams would have to do modifications for that.
"As far as the wings are concerned, the evidence from Spa was, you'd have to say, that there seemed to be fewer cars running more flexible wings – although that's very subjective."
Goss is confident that the modified McLaren will be extremely competitive at Monza, not just because the car is expected to be well-suited to the circuit, but because recent upgrades have now started taking full effect. Following a run of disappointing races – and particularly a dreadful weekend at Hungary – McLaren regained ground and won at Spa two weeks ago.
"We have a very ambitious car aerodynamically, so really we think we've got a good chance of occupying the front row and a good chance of challenging for a race win," said Goss of McLaren's Monza prospects. "We were shocked and disappointed at our performance in Hungary – the Red Bull seemed to be particularly strong on longer, flowing corners and certainly in Hungary we weren't able to compete with them.
"Our performance at Spa was partly due to circuit characteristics but also we did bring substantial and significant performance upgrades to the car. We've been playing catch-up on blown diffusers for a couple of races and we're actually just getting to grips with setting the car up around it. We made some significant developments there and that is hopefully going to carry us through to not just circuits like Spa and Monza, but through the remaining circuits that we've got this season."