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  Article Image gallery (43) Chassis (4) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1979 - 1980
Numbers built:5
Designed by:Gordon Coppuck for McLaren
Predecessor:McLaren M28 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 18, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMcLaren was late to adopt the ground effect aerodynamics pioneered by Lotus in 1977. The new-for-1979 M28 was the first such equipped McLaren. During the design process, the actual forces generated by the underbody venturis was underestimated and the M28's novel Nomex monocoque was not strong enough to cope. The lessons learned were quickly put into practice and at the 1979 British Grand Prix, McLaren already had a new car on the grid.

Designer Gordon Coppuck abandoned the troublesome Nomex monocoque and instead constructed the new M29's chassis from more conventional sheet aluminium. Its design was clearly inspired by the Williams FW07 and Ligier JS11 that had shown great speed early in 1979 season. To allow for undisturbed air-flow underneath the car, the M29 was fitted with in-board springs and dampers all around, which were actuated by rockers.

Each of the M29's massive side-pods housed large under-body wings, which generated much of the car's downforce. As was the norm in the ground effect era, the front and rear wing served mainly to tweak the car's balance rather than produce any significant downforce. At some tracks, the car was actually run without a front wing altogether. Compared to the M28, the new M29 was quite a bit smaller, considerably lighter and significantly quicker.

John Watson debuted the M29 with a promising fourth place at the British Grand Prix. Although clearly an improvement compared to its immediate predecessor, the latest McLaren was still not capable of challenging for victories. Watson did manage to finish in the points on three more occasions in the last six races of the season. With team-mate Patrick Tambay failing to score any points, his haul of 15 points placed McLaren a disappointing 7th in the standings.

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  Article Image gallery (43) Chassis (4) Specifications