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  Article Image gallery (12) M28-2 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1979
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Gordon Coppuck
Predecessor:McLaren M26 Cosworth
Successor:McLaren M29 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 20, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith the 'M28' introduced at the start of the 1979 season, McLaren were among the very last of the top teams in Formula 1 to embrace 'ground effect' aerodynamics. Pioneered by Lotus in 1977, the innovative design was used by their driver Mario Andretti to win the World Championship a year later. In stark contrast, McLaren slipped from third to seventh in the constructor's standings.

Very efficient, ground effect aerodynamics relies on the air-flow under the car to generate downforce with little to no drag penalty. More specifically, the air fed through the wing-shaped tunnels running on either side of the cockpit under the 'side-pods'. For his first ground effect car, McLaren designer Gordon Coppuck fully explored the regulations to create the largest tunnels permitted.

To allow for the very wide side-pods, Coppuck penned a particularly narrow monocoque chassis. This featured a novel honeycomb construction with a Nomex core sandwiched between two sheets of aluminium. Although heavier than the conventional single-sheet aluminium monocoques previously used, the new chassis was substantially stronger and better suited to cope with the increased aero forces.

The diminutive chassis was hidden from sight by the vast side-pods that completely filled the area between the front and rear suspension. The underside was shaped like the top surface of an airplane wing, which effectively sucked the car to the ground. The vast space inside the side pods was also used to house the car's radiators and a fuel tank each, while a third tank was fitted behind the driver.

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  Article Image gallery (12) M28-2 Specifications