Austrian Grand Prix technical analysis


1 — McLaren: Leading by the nose?

While last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix will not go down as one of the most riveting races in F1 history, it did witness plenty of new technical developments, especially at McLaren-Honda. Woking’s new aerodynamic package, which only covered a few kilometres on race day due to Fernando Alonso’s crash, mainly comprises a new shorter nose. Its design is fairly similar to Williams or Red Bull, but quite different to Force India’s latest “nostrils” innovation seen during the recent post-race test.

The new McLaren nose fully abides by the 2015 technical regulations, with Article 15.4.3 stipulating it must have two vertical cross sections: one that is “perpendicular to the car's centre line, of more than 9000mm² at a point 50mm behind its forward-most point”, and the other “of more than 20000mm² at a point 150mm behind its forward-most point.” These new regulations had been written with a view to eradicating the odd-looking “anteater” noses seen in 2014.

The overall consensus among the teams is that shorter noses are the way to go amid the current technical regulations. The design helps better manage the airflow coming from the mandated 500mm neutral section. The front wing pillars have also been moved back, which has led to a bigger gap on both sides of the tip. This means more air can circulate under the nose and towards the splitter.

McLaren only received the nod to run its new shorter nose last Friday when it finally passed the mandatory FIA crash-test. According to the regulations, any new component must be crash-tested on the race chassis. Yet, FIA officials noticed that the team had fitted its new design on the lighter monocoque it plans on introducing at Silverstone (which will feature an updated front wing, revised sidepods, and new mirrors). The Woking-based team eventually succeeded in showing the FIA that their latest evolution was solid enough, with Fernando Alonso’s MP4-30 trialling the shorter nose in FP2.