March 11, 2009

Barcelona Tests: Trouble for Mclaren?

There is more than one voice out there that suggests all is not going quite as planned with the Mclaren MP4-24 as the Silver Arrows have been somewhat off the pace set by Ferrari, Toyota and BMW. All amusing speculation in advance of the first race in Melbourne, what's more interesting to see in this clip are the significant evolutions which have already emerged on many of the cars.

If you look carefully, you can catch a glimpse of Mclaren's radical new floor profile (described HERE). In fact, Mclaren tested a new floor, front wing and engine cover. You can certainly see Renault running a completely different front wing that no longer flips the air up and over the tire but out and around them, a solution adopted by most other teams.

Interesting to see these angled top front wing elements, most pronounced on the Toyota but used also on the Ferrari.

Brawn GP, you may have noticed, is different from all other cars in that it has a low bulbous nose. Speculation is that this is to focus more weight and aero pressure on the front at the expense of airflow volume under the nose cone. How well that works remained to be seen. James Allen has a description of the cars under braking today:

"...The new rules have cut the maximum downforce level available on the cars to below the level they used to have on low downforce tracks. This has meant many things, but one of them is that braking stability is now harder to find, as downforce is an important part of getting the car slowed down. I stood at the heavy braking zone at Turn 10 for a few hours this morning and studied this closely. Everyone is more jittery than they were there last year, but if I had to pick a winner under braking I would say that it’s the Ferrari. The Brawn car is giving a little bit away there compared to the Toyotas and BMWs, and so is the Renault."

Ferrari and BMW seem to be the least changed of the cars, a good omen for them?

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