In the world of Formula 1, innovation is the name of the game, and McLaren has just unveiled a groundbreaking addition to their arsenal—their highly-anticipated, state-of-the-art wind tunnel. This project has been in the making since 2019, and its completion signifies a remarkable leap forward in McLaren’s Formula 1 development capabilities.
- Out with the Old: McLaren’s new wind tunnel has officially replaced its predecessor, which was deemed unfit for purpose back in 2010. This change signals a new era of precision and efficiency in their aerodynamic research and development.
- Investing in Excellence: The state-of-the-art wind tunnel is just one piece of the puzzle in McLaren’s ongoing investment strategy. Alongside this cutting-edge facility, the team has also revamped its machine shop, introduced a next-generation simulator, and established a new composites facility. These upgrades are a testament to McLaren’s unwavering commitment to excellence in Formula 1.
Aerodynamics has always been at the forefront of modern Formula 1 racing. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the anticipation surrounding the launch of the new wind tunnel overshadowed other advancements at McLaren’s Technology Centre (MTC). However, it’s crucial to note that this isn’t McLaren’s sole investment in their Formula 1 endeavors. The enhancements to their machine shop, the introduction of a future-ready simulator, and the establishment of a cutting-edge composites hub all underline their dedication to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the sport.
While access to McLaren’s new wind tunnel remains restricted, occasional glimpses have revealed its profound capabilities. This high-tech facility plays a pivotal role in probing aerodynamic balance, optimizing efficiency, and fine-tuning various components that shape the team’s developmental path. Within the expansive glass section of the wind tunnel, a 60% scale model of McLaren’s Formula 1 car—the maximum allowed under regulations—floats gracefully, mirroring real-time track conditions whenever the tunnel is in operation.
“Once the project had been approved, we carried out our design process simultaneously with the demolition of the existing wind tunnel.
“Demolition involved breaking down the old steelwork into much smaller pieces so that it would fit through the doors and out of the building. Looking at the empty space where the old test section once stood, we thought ‘there is no going back now!”
The genesis of this groundbreaking wind tunnel can be traced back to a feasibility study conducted in 2019, aimed at refurbishing the existing facility. Hannah Allan, the Engineering Project Manager, encapsulated the monumental journey, stating, “The road to this moment has been paved with dedication and meticulous planning. We’re excited to finally unveil a facility that will undoubtedly push McLaren to new heights in Formula 1.”
Christian Schramm, Director of R&D and Technology, also shared insights into the sacrifices made to bring this project to fruition, saying, “Innovation often demands sacrifices, but the results are worth it. Our new wind tunnel is a testament to McLaren’s relentless pursuit of excellence.”
“It was an enormous project and the biggest investment in Racing since the construction of the MTC.
“It was an amazing team effort. There were a lot of sacrifices, extra hours, and extra shifts worked, both during the week and on weekends. This was a complex project, but the team’s hard work ensured we were successful.”