by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The New Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26: First Photos, Tech Specs & Technical Q&A


Woking, United Kingdom, Feb 04, 2011

- Our new machine in detail
- Q&A with technical director Paddy Lowe and director of engineering Tim Goss

Our new machine in detail

Monocoque - McLaren-moulded carbonfibre composite incorporating front and side impact structures
Front suspension - Inboard torsion bar/damper system operated by pushrod and bell crank with a double wishbone arrangement
Rear suspension - Inboard torsion bar/damper system operated by pullrod and bell crank with a double wishbone arrangement
Electronics - McLaren Electronic Systems. Including chassis control, engine control, data acquisition, dashboard, alternator, sensors, data analysis and telemetry.
Bodywork - Carbon-fibre composite. Separate engine cover, sidepods and floor. Structural nose with intergral front wing Driver-operated drag reduction system [active rear wing
Tyres - Pirelli P Zero
Radio - Kenwood
Race wheels - Enkei
Brake callipers - Akebono
Master cylinders - Akebono
Batteries - GS Yuasa Corporation
Steering - McLaren power-assisted
Instruments - McLaren Electronic Systems
Paint solutions - AkzoNobel Car Refinishes using Sikkens Products

Type - Mercedes-Benz FO 108Y
Capacity - 2.4 litres
Cylinders - 8
Maximum rpm - 18,000
Bank angle - 90°
Piston bore maximum - 98mm
Number of valves - 32
Fuel - ExxonMobil High Performance Unleaded (5.75% bio fuel)
Spark plugs - NGK racing spark plugs specially designed for Mercedes-Benz F1 engine
Lubricants - Mobil 1 – combining greater performance, protection and cooling with increased economy and lower emissions
Weight - 95kg (minimum FIA regulation weight)

KERS [hybrid]
Type - Mercedes-Benz
e-Motor - Engine-mounted electrical motor/generator
ESS - Integrated energy storage cells and power electronics
Power - 60 kW

Gearbox - McLaren-moulded carbon-fibre composite. Integral rear impact structure
Gears - Seven forward and one reverse
Gear selection - McLaren seamless shift, hand-operated
Clutch - Carbon/carbon, hand-operated
Lubricants - Mobil

Q&A with technical director Paddy Lowe and director of engineering Tim Goss

What are the significant visual changes to the MP4-26?

Tim: “I think there are some novel features on the car – the long wheelbase and U-shaped sidepods are probably the most obvious examples. The thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower mainplane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double-diffuser.

“For 2011, KERS [hybrid] is now a single integrated unit that sits within the survival cell, beneath the fuel-tank. In 2009, it was housed in the sidepods. The hybrid’s cooling intake sits directly below the main rollhoop intake.

“And, once again, we’ve really pushed the car’s cooling configuration: we’ve got a second air intake on the engine cover for gearbox and hydraulic cooling.”

What have been your biggest challenges ahead of the 2011 season?

Tim: “For me, there have been two: recovering the rear downforce we lost following the banning of the double-diffuser, and fully exploiting the Pirelli tyres. The tyres only last for around 10 laps, and making them last longer is quite a challenge. So we need to look closely at how we configure the set-up and suspension to make the tyres last.”

Paddy: “Getting KERS [hybrid] back on the car was a big task. Collaborating with Mercedes GP to define the specification for Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines was very satisfying: there was great collaboration and co-operation between us. There can be lots of difficulties finding alignment between two teams, but I’m pleased with how we made it happen and very happy with the outcome.”

Tim: “The system was also more difficult to package because you’ve got to carry more fuel. That was the first challenge, but we got through that. There were a few difficult decisions concerning architecture around different aerodynamic concepts, but I think we ended up with a design layout we’re happy with.”

You’ve both stressed the team-effort that has characterised the development of this car – does the recent restructure of the technical management reflect that?

Paddy: “The restructure reflects Tim’s increased role within the engineering department, but it’s also been good to delegate the work around the next generation of senior engineers coming through in the company.

“For MP4-26, we’ve distributed the workload around five or six senior engineers in different specialist areas – and that’s a structure that will continue under Tim’s watch. I’m really proud of the depth of talent that we can draw upon at McLaren Racing, and there have been some great opportunities for some new players to contribute directly to the car at a high level.

Tim: “And it’s not just good for them; it’s good for the company and good for the end-product. I think we’re going to make better cars because we have wider access to the horsepower available within the design system. They’re all good guys and all have good ideas – it’s a cliché, but car design really is a team effort these days.”

What are your immediate aspirations as you roll out MP4-26?

Tim: We set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011. We always want to do more and we’re always very critical about performance, but we feel we’ve done a good job. We’ve identified some areas where we can add performance to the car – over the next weeks, the task will be to get them on to the car and reliable by the first race. That’s the big challenge.”

* Official photos and details courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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