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Let’s get one of the obvious things out of the way first, seeing as there has already been speculation regarding the design of the car’s front suspension.
As was hinted in the team’s fire-up video, the car features a pull rod layout at the front, which we’ve seen it use as recently as 2013 but abandoned just a year later as we moved into the hybrid era.
Both push and pull rod systems offer trade-offs in terms of where the weight of the suspension components are placed in the chassis. The pull rod is mounted low down, but push rod is considered to be easier to work on for the mechanics as the components are more accessible.
The position of the arm amongst the other suspension components also has some aerodynamic ramifications and is most likely the overriding factor in its decision to utilise a pull rod layout at the front of the car.
McLaren MCL36 Rear Suspension Photo by: McLaren
The real unknown in terms of suspension was at the rear of the car though, and it has flipped the script and gone for a push rod layout here, shown above.
The images suggest that the team has also opted to replace the raised upright solution – that are banned this season – with a multi-link arrangement instead, as the forward arm is lower than the rear (red arrow, above).
McLaren MCL36 front details Photo by: McLaren
Moving on to aero, the front wing design follows the direction that we’ve seen from others so far in that the mainplane is not connected to the body of the nose. This allows more freedom in the position of the element relative to the ground.
McLaren has opted for a drooped central section (red arrows, above), which means it doesn’t have to be so aggressive with the design of the entire wingspan.
The three upper elements connect to the nose cone, with the tip of the nose set slightly back off the edge of the first element.
The adjustable section of the wing is also set further outboard than the Aston Martin, with the flap adjuster found just ahead of the front tyre.
Interestingly, McLaren has created shut lines between the flaps and their joint with the endplate, which will undoubtedly lead to a collection of vortices being shed from them and fed across and around the tyre (blue arrows).
This attempt to recoup some of the outwash that the regulations are trying to prevent will be assisted by the shape of the endplate too, as it’s tilted away from the vertical where it meets with the diveplane (white arrows).
The main body of the nose isn’t very tall, allowing plenty of room for airflow to make its way centrally to the car’s underfloor. In order to achieve this, there’s two distinct transitions as the nose increases in height to meet with the chassis.
McLaren MCL36 nose Photo by: McLaren
McLaren has also set its front brake duct fence slightly away from the tyre’s sidewall in order that airflow is captured between the two surfaces. This will help feed the very small brake duct inlet that pokes out through either side of the fence.
The sidepods are reminiscent of the design used by McLaren for the last few seasons, albeit with a new inlet designed to meet the criteria of the new regulations. The upper surface of the sidepod slopes down to meet the inlet, with the lower leading edge set back behind. However, there’s a distinct lack of undercut beneath the inlet at this stage.
The sidepod is much narrower than what we’ve seen elsewhere and it follows the previous design trend of sloping away quickly towards the floor to expose it and the coke bottle region to as much airflow as quickly as possible.
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36 Photo by: McLaren
The tail end of the sidepods and the engine cover are slightly bulged to accommodate the power unit and exhausts installed within, and then feed into a high waisted cooling outlet at the rear of the car.
The floor features the premature upkick before the diffuser, as we’ve seen elsewhere, However, the team has moved to a single swan-neck style rear wing mounting pillar that’s connected to the DRS actuator pod.
It’s unclear without a rearward shot whether the beam wing is made up of one or two elements at this stage.
And although there’s no shot of the diffuser there’s no reason to suggest that the team won’t also use the maximum size available, rather than the more aesthetically pleasing solution that appeared on the FOM show car.
There are a couple of signs of the team’s aerodynamic intent too, as fins can be found mounted behind the curved wing mirror mounts and on the vertical halo supports.
McLaren MCL36 winglets Photo by: McLaren
Perhaps most interestingly of all, while the team is being coy and not revealing all the design features on its floor, such as the inboard strakes that are permitted, slightly hidden away from view there’s a very different approach with the shape of the entranceway to its underfloor tunnels that we must pay attention to.
As noted by the red arrows in the below image, the floor appears to fall away near the chassis to create a crevice which is fed by the bib and splitter section below the chassis.
Not only does this have an impact on the width of the tunnel, but it appears to rob some surface area from the bib (see how the yellow line which denotes the tunnel wall sits on top of the bib, which is highlighted with a white line).
This arrangement may not only help to accelerate flow around the front face of the sidepod as it emerges from the crevice on the top side of the floor, but it might also increase the size of the tunnel entrance.
McLaren MCL36 tunnel entrance and bib Photo by: McLaren