McLaren is reportedly struggling with similar handling issues on their current MCL60 that plagued their MCL36 from last season, despite the recent switch to ground-effect design regulations for 2022. Lando Norris has vocalized his concerns about the mid-corner handling unpredictability of the car, while team boss Andrea Stella has pointed out that it’s weakest in low-grip conditions, as well as when drivers are off the throttle and brakes. These issues have persisted despite the major rule change, leading McLaren to believe that the problems lie in their methodologies and outgoing wind tunnel’s inability to recreate accurate real-world conditions.
Stella stated that the team’s car handling shortfalls seem to follow a pattern, which may be associated with the infrastructure that they’re improving. The team is reportedly suffering from excessive drag, which is causing them to lose time in straight lines. Stella explained that while having more load and less drag could make the car go faster, there is a pattern associated with the challenging conditions on track that McLaren is struggling to simulate properly in the wind tunnel.
McLaren‘s new wind tunnel and simulator is expected to be completed by June of this year, with the team currently using the Toyota wind tunnel facility in Cologne. The upgrade will hopefully provide the team with a clearer answer as to whether their methodologies have been lacking in solving the “DNA” problems of the car. Stella hopes that the new wind tunnel will be more representative of what the car sees on track, as it will have adaptive walls that can better mimic track conditions.
Stella stated that the limitations of the team’s methodologies, which they have used for years, may be leading them to the same operating point despite a change of regulations. He explained that the team will know more about their car’s performance once they compare what they see in the McLaren Technology Centre wind tunnel to the one they’ve been using for the last two years. The aim is to have a better representation of what the car experiences on track, which would hopefully solve the repeated handling shortfalls that McLaren has been experiencing.