Mercedes “stands out” among 2017 F1 cars, says McLaren chief

McLaren chief engineer Peter Prodromou says Mercedes’ W08 is the 2017 F1 car that has impressed him most so far, and that its T-wing concept is a development path that his Woking-based team is evaluating.

Speaking at yesterday’s McLaren-Honda MCL32 launch, Prodromou said the T-wings that have featured on both the Mercedes and the Ferrari SF70H so far would be avenues his design team would pursue over the coming weeks.

“There is an area, one of the regulations boxes that wasn’t covered in the way people expected when they were designing the regulations, which has allowed these T-wings to go in that area,” he said. “It is something we are looking at.

“The car that has impressed me so far is the Mercedes. Clearly Mercedes has put a huge amount of man hours into the car. That’s the one that stands out.

“In terms of major surprises, I don’t think we have seen anything yet that looks like a big loophole.”

Prodromou stressed that much effort went into defining the concept of the MCL32, with work starting in the autumn of 2015.

“We spent quite a long time defining the fundamental concept for this car,” he added. “We actually started this project a good 18 months ago. The lion’s share of our time has been aimed at putting together a good foundation.

“So we’re in that luxury position where we’re finding very good gains at the moment. I think for us the main challenge is to convert those gains to the track as quickly as possible.

“That’s is what we are deeply involved in at the moment, trying to get upgrades on the car as quickly as we can.”

Understanding 2016 weaknesses

Director of engineering Matt Morris says McLaren has put extra effort into understanding the 2016 car’s performance deficiencies – such as its performance in medium and fast corners – in order to create a better starting point for the MCL32.

“We did do a lot of work at the end of last year trying to understand the weaknesses of our car,” said Morris. “You probably saw we had quite a lot of instrumentation on the car, and we spent our Fridays doing a lot of test runs to try to understand the car more deeply.

“It was obviously a big decision for us, because we were taking away resource from designing this year’s car, but we felt it important to understand our weaknesses before we invested in the new car.

“We did achieve what we set out to do, to understand the weaknesses, and hopefully we’ve addressed those on this year’s car.”

Morris believes that the new car represents a fresh start for the team: “I’m really excited about the new McLaren. I think the statement of the car with its new livery, some new faces, is really exciting.

“From an engineering point of view we have had a lot of change, and I feel that now we’ve got a team that can really produce great cars. So I’m just excited to get the thing on the track, and get testing.”