Formula 1 Racing

McLaren sets June date for using new F1 wind tunnel

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Upon his arrival at the team in 2019, McLaren’s former team boss Andreas Seidl pushed for the construction of a new state-of-the-art wind tunnel and simulator after the Woking team’s ageing infrastructure had fallen behind compared to that of its rivals.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant delays in both projects, with the latest deadline shifting to the summer of 2023.

Seidl’s replacement Stella has explained that the new wind tunnel’s hardware is already finished, with actual development work starting in June. The team still needs to wait until all the usual calibration work is finished to make sure the new wind tunnel works as expected.

“We are hopeful to have the car in the wind tunnel, which should be at that stage the new car, in June,” Stella said in Bahrain.

“The wind tunnel is already commissioned, but there’s a process of calibration, installation of the methodologies like the ones you use to measure the pressure, to measure the velocity field, to measure the forces. All this takes some weeks.

“Hardware-wise it exists, the fan goes on. It’s really nice for my office because I can hear it. And it’s so reassuring [because] we’re making progress, but we can’t yet put the car model in there for the relevant tests.

“On a new wind tunnel you have to use a reference model in one tunnel and in another to see the correlation and repeatability.

“We don’t plan to do it with the new car model, we want to do it with the old car model, understand more about the new wind tunnel and then deploy the new [2024] car.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McLaren’s new wind tunnel will not only boost the quality of the team’s development work, but it should also help speed it up.

Currently, the team rents Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne, which involves packing parts into a van and sending it off to Germany.

“When we have a design, we produce the parts for the model, then there’s a van that drives to Cologne and we lose a couple of days,” Stella explained. “Formula 1 is such a fast business, you can’t have this way of operating.

“I don’t want to mention the wind tunnel too much because it sounds like an excuse, but it’s definitely a deficit in the quality and in the speed of the development because of all these slow operations that you have to do to just get the parts tested in the wind tunnel.”

Stella has made it clear that even before the new tunnel comes online, he expects the team to make…

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