McLaren enjoyed a strong 2021 season, capped by a stunning 1-2 victory for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in the Italian Grand Prix.
Nonetheless, the Woking side were unable to retain their third place in the Constructors’ Championship, which they won in 2020, and had to settle for fourth after a season-long struggle with Ferrari.
McLaren’s MCL35 car particularly excelled on high-speed tracks thanks to high efficiency and relatively low drag, but it suffered in low-speed cornering. Technical director Key hopes to address some of those weaknesses and deliver a more balanced car in 2022.
“We paid a lot of attention to drag on the 2020 car, and like we did for the 2019 car, it was a bit before my time, but I know it was a priority for this car and everything worked out.” said Key.
“Efficiency is good. I think what we’ve seen with straight-line braking, which is one of our strengths, and high-speed cornering reflects the kind of performance we can generate with nature. of the car we have.”
“What we’re missing is – we’ve been working on that for 2020 and 21 – trying to generate that low-speed performance. We know why we’re not there yet.
“The car is not as robust as it is at high speeds in low speed corners. A lot of the work done on the 21 car was to specifically try to address some of these issues.
“Unfortunately it’s not just a silver bullet where we turn it on and suddenly it’s great. It takes time to get them working. That’s why we knew Zandvoort would be difficult. Similarly, we kind of knew that Monza would be strong.”
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
As Formula 1 moves to brand new technical regulations this year, producing cars that generate a much higher percentage of their full downforce from the ground, Key believes the rules reset provides a good opportunity to address these concerns. , although that also means there’s no guarantee that the team’s newest challenger will always excel on high-speed circuits compared to the opposition.
“I think it’s more about trying to have a car that attacks its weaknesses more than its strengths,” he explained. “The nature of the 2022 cars means it’s probably a bit easier to retain some of the strengths we have, but strengths are all relative.
“We know we had some strengths in our car, but I don’t know where the others will be next year, maybe it will be a different scenario.”
“We focused more on trying to have a more balanced car in various different conditions than we would have had now. That’s what we would have wanted to do if the regulations remained the same, the same process but done differently in reason for the regulations.”