Despite the landmark shift to the ground-effect design regulations for 2022, the MCL36 of last season was still blighted by the same mid-corner handling unpredictability as its 2021 predecessor.
Lando Norris has since raised the same complaint with the current MCL60, while team boss Andrea Stella says the car is weakest in low-grip conditions and when drivers are off the throttle and brakes.
With these deficiencies surviving the major rule change, McLaren suspects its design problems stem from its methodologies and outgoing wind tunnel failing to recreate accurate real-world conditions.
When asked why McLaren suffers from repeat car handling shortfalls, Stella — who has also called out the car’s excessive drag — explained: “I have to say that it seems like the pattern hasn’t changed.
“I know that we talked in some of the previous conversations that it’s more a matter of aerodynamic efficiency. It’s true because if you see the time we lose in the straight, we do lose because of drag.
“Overall, if you have more load without changing the characteristics, you would go quite a bit faster.
“But within these advantages of having overall more load and less drag, there’s this pattern where potentially associated to the infrastructure that we’re improving, conditions that at the track are very challenging because you are in a curvature, you can’t simulate in the wind tunnel properly.”
Construction of a new wind tunnel and simulator at Woking is nearing its anticipated June completion, with Stella previously saying that he can hear it being tested from his office.
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, arrives on the grid with his mechanics
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
In recent years, the team has been left to rent the Toyota wind tunnel facility in Cologne, which involves taking new parts to Germany in the back of a van.
The infrastructure upgrade, Stella hopes, will give McLaren a clear answer on whether its methodologies have been lacking in a bid to solve “DNA” problems.
He continued: “Certainly with the wind tunnel that we use, it is even more difficult than other facilities and it will become easier and more representative in the wind tunnel that we’ll have available in the short term.
“This is because you have a better representation thanks to, for instance, having adaptive walls in the wind tunnel of what the car sees on track.
«So, there’s a possibility that what you call DNA is associated to some limitations of the methodologies that we have used now for years and that somehow, they seem to be leading despite even a change of regulation to the same operating point.
“So, we will know more in a few months once we compare what we see in the [McLaren Technology Centre] wind tunnel to the wind tunnel that we’ve been using for the last two years.»