McLaren’s Flat Nose

McLaren’s Flat Nose

McLaren ran with a new, higher and flatter nose in the Mugello test which is a departure from the low nose they’ve been running for the last few years. McLaren differentiated themselves this year as the only team whose car’s front end had not been smashed by The Hulk or Thor (The Avenger’s references) to create an ungainly bump/step. They’ve raised the nose now but thankfully kept that bump/step/beak away. I usually don’t comment on very technical matters since they’re are people out there who do a far more comprehensive and detailed job on it. Here’s a couple of great articles:

“McLaren Front End Aero Development” from ScarbsF1 – it chronologically goes through and explains McLaren’s car philosophy complete with his usual, great drawings.

“McLaren’s MP4-27 New Nose” from SomersF1 – nicely explains the reasoning behind the nose, which I shall also be covering below. Thanks to him as well for the picture I’m using on this post.

However, just today two of my F1 savvy friends just today asked me: “Why have McLaren gotten a new nose?” to explain the reasoning behind the change. Since this change is an obvious, conspicuous visual one I believe it’ll garner considerable fan interest. So here’s a simple bullet points list as a quick read that’ll give you a basic overview of the technical development and answer that question.

  • The front wing is the most important aerodynamic aspect of the car. It’s the first thing that hits the air to both work and crucially, channel it to produce downforce.

  • The channeling of air is the important bit. The front wing is tweaked such as maximum air is sent to areas where downforce can most be produced (rear bodywork) and away from areas where it can’t (tyres).

  • With a higher nose (trend started in 2009 by the Red Bull RB5), you can channel more air underneath the front wing. More air means more potential to generate downforce.

  • McLaren until now that a unique “snow plough” system that generated front downforce in concordance with their low nose philosophy. If you look as back as 2010 you’ll see McLaren having the lowest front nose in the paddock.

  • This year teams lost a lot of rear downforce produced by the exhaust blown diffuser. If you lose rear downforce, in the most basic sense, you’ll have to reduce front downforce to keep the car balanced. The snow plough is no longer necessary to generate front downforce so McLaren have now gotten rid of it.

So I don’t expect this change to bring a sudden massive increase or decrease in performance from the MP4-27. They’ve altered the basic car design philosophy behind it to get more air underneath the front wing that they work on. It opens up developmental avenues for them to exploit later on.

One small note aesthetically, thankfully, there isn’t an ugly bump on the car but wow that’s a flat platypus like shape of carbon fibre.