At the fire-up of the new car for the Formula 1 season, McLaren gives a brief glimpse of what appears to be a new design in its front suspension
(Motorsport-Total.com) – Formula One teams are in the final stages of preparing their new cars for presentation and the first pre-season test in Barcelona. The all-new 2022 regulations mean that designs will be much more constrained by regulations than in the recent past.
Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl at the fire-up of the new MCL36 for the 2022 season Zoom Download
Conversely, that means any differences between teams will undoubtedly lead to scrutiny. McLaren nevertheless seems to be among those teams that are doing things a little differently this year.
The Woking team has hinted at some key concept changes in images and videos it has posted on its social media channels these days.
Fire-up video suggests design change
Having already shown a slightly revised airbox and new roll bar design in clips from the new chassis, a recently released video teases a new approach to the front suspension design. The clip shows the first starting of the new bolide for 2022.
There’s also a scene in it where McLaren CEO Zak Brown is filmed with his smartphone in his hand. The camera focuses on the display as he pans to the front of the car, so we get an albeit very brief look at the layout of the front suspension from the rear.
What we’re seeing suggests McLaren has reverted to a trailing-arm suspension. Such a change is not entirely unexpected, as McLaren had already used this layout in 2013, following the example of Ferrari, which had introduced this configuration the year before, in 2012.
Using Ferrari as an example (from left): compression strut and rebound strut suspension Zoom Download
But while Ferrari continued to use the design on the three following cars, McLaren abandoned it and switched back to the common compression strut suspension. Both the tension strut and compression strut systems have advantages and disadvantages.
Tension strut vs. Compression strut: pros and cons
There are hardly any differences in the behavior of the two solutions, but there are differences in the placement of the weight, with the elements of the tension strut suspension placed lower in the chassis. This has some advantages in terms of center of gravity, but makes it a bit more complicated for mechanics to work on the car.
McLaren switched back to compression strut after problems with rebound strut Zoom Download
A tie-rod design can also increase the design freedom for the top of the nose and chassis, as teams are not constrained in this area by the suspension components housed in the chassis.
However, some might also consider the aerodynamic benefits of a compression strut layout, as it allows them to shape the lower half of the nose and chassis.
So at the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer to the question of which direction is best. And teams may well choose a mix of solutions, depending on what fits their overall concepts.