Analysis: The new McLaren front wing
Another engine failure saw Fernando Alonso fail to finish his 11th race this season and miss out on another solid points haul at the United States Grand Prix. But not all was bad for the Spaniard this weekend – it was confirmed that he would be staying with McLaren for 2018. More importantly though, the new McLaren front wing was a ‘huge’ success.
The package was first tested by Stoffel Vandoorne in Free Practice 1 because Alonso’s car had a problem. Vandoorne however switched back to the old-spec front wing, and passed on the new front wing to Alonso for the weekend.
Alonso outqualified his teammate by over half a second, and was firmly running in the top ten in the race before his Honda engine gave up. He described the new upgrade to be a ‘major’ step forward.
McLaren racing director, Eric Boullier confirmed that the new front wing McLaren introduced at this year’s US Grand Prix is part of package focused on developing its 2018 Formula 1 car. Looking at the weekend, it is a big step forward for 2018.
McLaren has a highly-raked stance that requires very specific flow structures to make it work, very similar aerodynamic concept to Red Bull. The specific air flow structure begins from the front wing.
The main plain in the middle of the wing is critical in generating airflow vortices that influence how air passes to the rest of the car. The upgrade McLaren brought to Austin had two added small slots to the main plain. This allowed the air to flow from the sides of the front tyre, significantly reducing drag.
More details on how the front wing functions can be found on the technical analysis done by motorsport.com.