McLaren technical director James Key says the team’s 2019 Formula 1 car remains “the father” of its new challenger despite a concept change while it has opted for a matte paint finish to gain “technical and weight benefits”.

The MCL35 is the first McLaren designed with Key overseeing the process, along with Andreas Seidl as team principal, following the pair joining the team early last year.

While Key sees the 2020 F1 car as an evolution of its predecessor, thanks to largely unchanged technical regulations, the entire rear half of the car appears to have tightened packaging around the sidepods, gearbox and rear suspension, while the front wing philosophy remains unchanged but with a new nose concept.

Having kept a close eye on rival F1 team launches from earlier this week, Key feels the tighter rear is a trend being followed by many teams for this season.

“With the new concept that we looked at alongside what we’ve learned from the MCL34 last year, we have changed a few areas, including the bodywork which is following a trend with very narrow sidepod, which is quite an exercise in packaging,” Key said. “It’s been a similar exercise with gearbox to match that philosophy.

“On the rear part there’s been a lot of suspension work, so from the cockpit backwards it is very different to what we had before. Equally there’s a lot of technologies that let’s say around the front that would have only been possible with new car.

“Having said that it’s all based around what we learned last year, the 34 is still very much the father of this car, and we tried to carry forward what we learned last year. Then we added what we felt were opportunities we couldn’t unlock in the 34 with the geometry we had.”

McLaren has also switched to a matte paint job for 2020 which Key says is a mutual decision between the design and marketing departments while it retains the papaya and blue colour scheme.

“It’s a good mix really, a slight twist on the colour and branding, which is very clean in terms of its look,” he explained. “There are technical benefits, a weight benefit, a combination of coatings which surround the car with that colour.

“It has been a close collab between marketing needs and tech needs and we found a solution we’re happy with. It’s been a journey, not easy, but it’s beneficial for everyone so we’re quite happy with it.”

McLaren enters the final year of its engine partnership with Renault before it returns to Mercedes power from 2021. It will also mark part of the wider F1 changes the Woking-based team faces next year with the expected overhaul of the technical regulations.

 

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