McLaren B-Spec on hold
McLaren may be forced to revert back to last years car in the wake of their poor performance at Albert Park last weekend. However, they will only look towards a ‘B-Spec’ chassis if they cannot make inroads on their MP4-28’s lack of pace in Malaysia.
The main bone of contention derives from the change in front suspension towards a pull rod front suspension. Such a layout was used by Ferrari last season and attributed to their poor form for the beginning segment of the year. Such a set-up allows for a lower suspension unit at the front of the car which subsequently lowers the centre of gravity, however, it has to be set up correctly with the rest of the car. Areas such as the ride height, rear anti-roll bar and even front and rear wing angles all have significant impacts on the car handling. As Ferrari discovered last season, a pull rod front suspension has it’s benefits, but also has a very narrow window for performance.
McLaren engineers and drivers have not had enough running time or experience with the new car to begin to understand what the consequences are to the changes that they make, be it rear ride height, rear camber, front camber, toe or roll bars. The scope for potential can be there though, if they get it right.
Albert Park was not the idea circuit for McLaren to gain an understanding or experience with the street circuit track being particularly bumpy. Jenson Button explained they are hoping for inroads at a smoother Sepang circuit, “Hopefully in Malaysia it’s a smoother circuit, hopefully we will get rid of those issues and we can find a bit more performance,” he said.
Sergio Perez agreed, hoping that they could produce something a little better next weekend, “I’m now part of the best team in Formula 1 so I’m certain they’ll improve it fast. Going back to this afternoon’s race, I don’t think the Albert Park circuit suited our car very well – it accentuated its problems in fact – so I’m hoping we’ll be able to put up a better showing in Sepang next weekend.”
Team bosses and engineers all held a lengthy debrief on Sunday and Monday to discuss future development routes. They will have an engineering meeting back in Woking after the Malaysian Grand Prix next Monday to see whether they had made successful inroads to continue development on the current car or whether to revert back to a push rod suspension they found so productive last year.
If they do decide to change to a B-Spec chassis, expect it to be before the European season begins. McLaren will not be content with languishing down the points order, and with one less race this season compared to last, every Grand Prix and every result now matters.