McLaren’s Formula 1 rivals are set to copy its innovative rear suspension design if the FIA confirms that it is legal.
One of the main technical talking points of the first pre-season test at Jerez has been McLaren’s suspension “blockers,” which appeared on its new MP4-29 in Spain.
At least one team has asked the governing body for clarification that the design complies with the regulations relating to the maximum number of arms in the rear suspension. Sources close to the governing body insist that it is fully satisfied the McLaren design is legal. However, that does not mean that its stance could not be challenged with an official protest in a race.
One more likely avenue for teams, however, is for them to begin working on their own similar design. Ferrari technical director James Allison admitted that he was likely to take a closer look at it once Jerez had finish.
“I haven’t seen it in the flesh, but I would like to see a bit more of it because it does interest me,” he said. “I have seen some blurry pictures on some websites.”
Williams chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson said that his outfit would likely begin a wind tunnel development program if the FIA rules it OK.
“There are a few bits and pieces [from other teams] that I am sure will be in the wind tunnel,” he said, when asked about what designs from other cars looked interesting. “McLaren’s rear suspension is a stand-out example of that and if we think the FIA will deem that to be legal, then we would be remiss to not try it in the tunnel.”
Nelson made clear it was up to the FIA to rule on its legality, and said it was a clever way of interpreting the rules in that area of the car.
“They have been quite cute with the regulations,” he said. “The rear leg of the wishbones, they have got a kind of dogleg in them now.
“That means they can get these perpendicular surfaces on the trailing edges, but they still have point to point, from the inboard bearing to the outboard bearing, it is the same geometry.”
Nelson believes that the biggest advantage from the design would be in helping feed air for the diffuser.
“I would imagine it is making the diffuser work better,” he said. “One of the issues we have this year is the lower rear wing, which is illegal in the form we ran last year.
“The point of it was not to just generate downforce on its own but it helped you be more aggressive with the diffuser, so stops it stalling at lower ride heights. I would imagine the McLaren wishbones are doing that. It means you can work the diffuser harder.”