Tech Analysis: McLaren nose
After announcing that the team aimed to find 0.5 seconds ahead of the Malaysian GP, it was no surprise to see some modifications to McLaren’s MP4-29, the standout part being their new nose. There has been a lot of talk around this area of the car, with many teams known to be running various solutions in CFD/wind-tunnel models. It is not an absolutely critical component but an optimal design can reduce laptime by a substantial margin.
McLaren have opted to raise the main section of the nose, with the lower appendage stooping at a greater angle towards the ground as a result. The purpose for doing this is to let a higher volume of airflow pass beneath the nose towards the floor and leading edge of the sidepod. Creating more rear downforce is done by supplying the diffuser with a higher volume of low pressure airflow and raising the nose helps this.
The new nose shares a lot of properties found on its predecessor, particularly using the mounting pylons as a venturi tunnel that narrow towards their trailing edges. Working in conjunction with the three, chassis-mounted turning vanes immediately behind, the pylons further manage airflow in this area of the car across a range of speeds. The lower “finger” remains similar to the previous design so clearly they had no issues with blockage around the centreline of the car, although there isn’t much the teams can do to alleviate the problem due to the minimum cross sectional area regulations.
Further up the nose lies two ridges where the entire wing assembly attaches to the chassis. Originally adopted by Red Bull in 2009 (and remained a common design feature on the car right up until last year), the ridges prevent airflow passing over the nose from spilling into the path of air passing around the side of the chassis. Mercedes have used these in the past for the same effect, too, but this year they have instead utilised the camera pods for this application.
William Tyson - a Mechanical Engineering student at Swansea University - has been writing about the technical side of Formula 1 since February 2013. After joining the Richland F1 team for 2014 he has continued to establish himself as a more rounded technical analyst whilst maintaining a healthy following on his blog.