McLaren has already set out multiple paths to balance its Formula 1 development focus between the upcoming season and the 2021 regulation shake-up.

With F1 bracing for a new generation of cars through next year’s rules overhaul, McLaren is putting plans in place to prepare for 2021 alongside launching its 2020 F1 car the MCL35.

While remaining tight-lipped on the details behind dovetailing its development efforts, technical director James Key says a variety of options have been drawn up which is dependent on its early progress and success this season.

“We have a plan A, you need a B and a C as well, it is a tough balance, I think every team faces this to a certain extent,” Key said. “But where we are you have this funny mix of wanting to continuing the positive momentum while keeping a very close eye on 2021.

“We’ve planned around that, we’ve planned what we’d like to do and hope to do, we’ll adjust that a little bit depending on where we are, there’s nothing carried over from this year to next year, it really is a blank sheet of paper, so we have to very finely balance that.

“It was clear straight from the beginning that we didn’t want to for example sacrifice 2020 to get a better start for 2021,” Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal, added.

“It was important we were fully focused to make the next step in 2020 as a team with the car and also the way we operate, we hope for now obviously similar to everyone else to have a strong start to the season as that might make it easier to switch some resources at an earlier point.”

While F1 teams anticipate the final 2021 regulations will provide a fresh start in terms of car design, Key has hinted at McLaren looking to continue developments from the MCL35 and next year’s car given the power unit regulations remain largely untouched in the new era.

The 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid concept will stay put next season but McLaren has its own fresh challenge but switching from Renault to Mercedes engines in 2021.

“It is a blank sheet of paper in many, many aspects but there are certain items which will be carried over and which are legitimate to test in the context of a different car,” Key explained. “Probably certain systems for example, the power units don’t change so there will be things associated with the power unit which you can develop for this year and carry into next year.

“But I think the blank sheet of paper is the way the car looks and the way the car will behave and how you extract the most performance out of it. That is something you can’t really do until you hit the track in 2021.”

Key was on hand to oversee the launch of McLaren’s 2020 F1 car at its Woking base, which marks the team’s first F1 challenger to be designed by the technical director having joined the squad in early 2019.

 

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