McLaren MP4-28 Launch Review

With car launches nearly every day this week, we finally feel the return of F1 races. People are saying ‘It’s exactly the same as last year!’ everytime a new car reveals, even though they all know that 2013 is not a year for revolution. In McLaren’s launch, Jenson said that ‘under the skin, it’s so different’ – well we don’t really know before the Jerez test, but through bare eyes, we can see several detail changes on the new seasons car.

First of all, if you haven’t watched their launch video, you should really do it now! They have a brilliant built-up to the revealing of MP4-28:

With little change in regulations, one thing most team would do is trying to steal some good ideas from other cars last season. In terms of this, McLaren has somehow adopted Ferrari’s pull rod suspension and Red Bull’s rear suspension merging with driveshaft and track rod.

Covered Step Nose

The most obvious change is the covering of step nose with modesty panel. Step nose appeared in F1 since the 2012 season, when FIA modified the height limitation for nose cone and monocoque due to safety reasons. The 2012 regulation has a 550mm limitation for nose cone and 625mm for monocoque. As it’s beneficial to get more air flow underneath the car to feed into the diffuser, most teams are pushing to upper limit for both nose cone and monocoque. And in order to make up for the margin between them, step nose came out as the solution. The step doesn’t look good and there could be slight aero deficiency as the surface is less streamline like. So in 2013, regulation allows using of a modesty panel to cover the nose. It’s basically a thin carbon fibre panel that doesn’t have any structure function (it simply breaks down during front impact). However, the penalty of using this panel would be additonal weight at the front of the car. It’s the team’s choice to decide whether to use it or not considering its aero and aesthetic benefit and weight penalty.

McLaren MP4-28 Nose Cone

MP4-28 Nose cone with modesty panel

Original Step Nose without Modesty Panel

MP4-28 Original step nose without the cover

Front Pull-rod Suspension

This was what Ferrari used last year (this year as well). Pull-suspension is basically an upside-down version of push-rod suspension (well not exactly, but you may understand it this way..). With the chassis and nose cone lifted up for maximum aero benefit, for stability, it’s good to lower down centre of gravity with a pull-rod suspension as all those springs and dampers are mounted at the bottom side of the nose. Actually McLaren must have made a whole change in the front part design due to the change of suspension.

McLaren MP4-28 Pull-rod suspension

McLaren MP4-28 Front Pull-rod Suspension

Rear Suspension Integration with Driveshaft

This was a Red Bull idea implemented since the development of RB5!  It basically utilise one of the wishbone to cover up the rear driveshaft. The covering of this part would make it more aerodynamically desirable. It smooths out the air at the rear of the car, therefore good for the efficiency of rear diffuser. From the picture below, you can see a very thick wide structure of the wishbone, which houses the whole driveshaft.

McLaren MP4-28 Rear Suspension

McLaren MP4-28 Rear Suspension

*Pictures from AMuS