McLaren 'surprised' rivals haven't followed novel diffuser approach

© XPB 

McLaren technical director James Key is surprised no other rival team has followed the Woking-based outfit's novel approach to the design of its diffuser.

McLaren unveiled in Bahrain an innovative diffuser solution on its MCL35M that aims to recover part of the downforce lost through the implementation of this year's regulations.

For 2021, the rules imposed a 50mm reduction of the height of the vertical strikes located on the diffuser. But McLaren's clever interpretation of the regs has allowed it to exploit an area of the diffuser that is within 250mm of the car's centreline and which is uncovered by the legal restrictions.

Key is surprised that other teams haven't followed McLaren's approach.

"It is a normal design idea, and actually I think we are a bit surprised that maybe we're the only team with that," said the McLaren tech boss.

"I think it’s always nice for a team to come up with an idea which is unique and the credit fully goes to our aero department and the guys in the rear aero group for realising that there was an opportunity there to use the new regulations in such a way. So full credit to them in that respect.

"Of course it’s nice to find something which is maybe a little bit unique to us," he added. "I suppose it’s one of those visible things which gets talked about a lot, but ultimately it’s just a bit of a much wider picture of a complex back of a car.

"I’m sure it’ll be forgotten by the time we get back here in a couple of weeks’ time."

As rival engineers peer this week over the spy photos collected during pre-season testing, Key expects McLaren's concept to pop up on other cars in the near future.

"I think the first port of call with any idea you see out there is CFD, so I think you can jump on an idea that you spot on another team within a week easily nowadays," he explained.

"I guess if there's still interest after a week, whether it's our diffuser or Mercedes' edge of floor detail or whatever it is, I think you can get a feel for things quite quick.

"Then it's really understanding how it works with your car. That's the key to this. You can then end up with a unique geometry of your own because you might understand the principle, but then you have to adapt it accordingly that it works with your car.

"The diffuser situation for example is also very stable in that environment as well.

"So you'd probably therefore wind tunnel test it, which might be a week or two down the line, and then you've got to manufacture it.

"These particular steps are pretty straightforward. So you could say between three and five weeks between taking the picture and putting it on the car if you really wanted to push this through."

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter