Did McLaren develop in the Red Bull direction - Wheel Sports
McLaren develop in the Red Bull direction

Did McLaren develop in the Red Bull direction

This post was contributed by Henk Ormel, who has been a much beloved member of our community at Wheel Sports and an incredibly insightful eye for feedback on technical matters.

This is a phrase you hear a lot during the Japanese GP weekend. Is this statement true? I don’t think so. McLaren was the only team to introduce pullrods at the front and pushrods at the rear at the start of 2022. No-one had seen the RB18 at that point in time, not even at the livery reveal party.


At mid 2022 McLaren switched from a inwashing design to a downwashing design inspired by Red Bull. In the aftermath of the TD39 the McLaren design team discovered too late the huge implications of the raised floor edges and diffuser throat raise. At that moment in September 2022 the RB19 wasn’t presented yet. It only broke cover at the wintertest in the end of March the following year.

McLaren did what AMR did, taking inspiration wherever it was found. It went partly the Alpine route with the sidepod gullies and partly the Red Bull route with the big undercut and the air inlet shape. The parts that made up almost a B spec, were designed over the time of over half a year and introduced in about three months.

The aero package does look much more balanced out now. Even if you look at the early MCL60 the car was a mess aerodynamically speaking (referring to an earlier post on this channel).

Is the MCL60 now on par with the RB19? Hard to say, i think it is close in qualifying. The Japanese GP hasn’t started yet. Then there is the driver element, Pérez is at a greater distance to the McLaren drivers as they are to Verstappen. For this i took the fastest times in Q3 not solely the second runs. The driver element and harshness of the car to the tires is not visible in qualifying but will be in the race. In the FP sessions in particular the stints Verstappen did on the test tire were impressive. Those tires are the proposed C2 (current medium) for next year and as such comparable (see Peter Winsors Friday Analysis).

To Summarize, the MCL60 does look-a-like at a distance as the RB19 does. However the similarities are due to the best engineering regarding the set boundaries that delivers thru different development paths the same solutions.