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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:2021
Predecessor:McLaren MCL35 Renault
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 16, 2021
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe first Formula 1 of 2021 to break cover is the McLaren MCL35M. As the name suggests, it is an evolution of the car used in the 2020 season but with a crucial change in the engine department. Instead of running the Renault power unit used during the three previous seasons, McLaren have come full circle in 2021 and returned to the Mercedes-Benz fray.

The reason why the 2021 McLaren is still only a variation of the existing design is due to the regulations. As a result of the global pandemic, the sport agreed to limit the development for the new season with a token system. As McLaren had already agreed to switch engine suppliers before the pandemic, it was forced to used most of the tokens available to accommodate for the different power unit.

While built to the same regulations, the two engines are actually quite different, especially from a packaging perspective. Where Renault use a conventional turbocharger, the Mercedes-AMG power-unit has a split turbo. The turbine is mounted behind the engine and is connected to a separate compressor at the front of the V6 through a shaft. This configuration allows for a larger compressor and is one of the reasons why the British-built German engine has been so successful.

With the compressor mounted ahead of the engine, it had to be installed slightly further away from the monocoque chassis that was carried over from 2020 as per the regulations. This may have made the MCL35M slightly longer than its predecessor. Changes to the cooling arrangements will have had effects on the aerodynamics. As has a rule change, which calls for a simpler floor that is tapered to the rear.

In addition to a new engine, there is also a change in the cockpit as the team managed to sign multiple Grand Prix winning driver Daniel Ricciardo to join Lando Norris. Following a short pre-season test in Bahrain, the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship should get under way at the same venue towards the end of March.

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  Article Image gallery (8) Specifications