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What McLaren’s major Miami upgrade will bring to Red Bull fight

McLaren arrived at the Miami Grand Prix with a substantial upgrade package as it looks to make gains towards the front of the grid.

Last month at the Chinese Grand Prix, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella confirmed the MCL38 car would be equipped with an extensive development package in Miami to consolidate the strong form the car showed at the two previous races.

The vast changes were realised in Miami, with a remarkable scope of development seeing an aerodynamic redefinition of the car from the front wing, through the geometry of the front suspension, a new floor, new inlets for the sidepods, new venting gills, new engine cover and up to the rear wing where the Woking-based team worked on the beam wing.

McLaren also confirmed the changes that affected both the cooling vents and the sidepod inlets also required changes to the cooling system itself to obtain the maximum level of efficiency in terms of heat exchange.

The high ambient temperatures of Miami, according to Stella, should not constitute a problem as the efficiency of the cooling system in the new configuration is even greater than the previous version.

The entire package of modifications has been mounted on Norris' car, while on Piastri's car, only the adoption of the new front wing and modifications to the geometry of the front suspension were installed, as well as adopting the minimal changes that affected the rear.

In essence, around 50 per cent of the new package has been adopted on the Australian’s challenger.

Something to note is the original plan for the introduction of this development involved a complete installation for just one car, and it is not linked due to a shortage of spare parts.

The first reason relates to the F1 Sprint weekend format, which with only one free practice session, does not allow for an in-depth analysis - especially in the case of sudden problems. Debuting the new package on only one of the two cars minimises the risks.

The second reason is linked to the possibility of carrying out a back-to-back comparison between the two versions, comparing the data of the two single-seaters.

The breadth of the development introduced should provide significant advantages and performance increases compared to the version that took to the track at the start of the season.

Looking at the changes in detail, it is clear that the aerodynamic department of the Woking-based team has concentrated their efforts on analysing the dynamic behaviour of the car and the flow passing underneath.

In this sense, it’s not only the new version of the front wing that should be scrutinised but above all, the geometry of the front suspension which tends to direct the airflow towards the leading edge of the new floor.

One of the objectives, which Stella believed was only partially achieved with the debut of the new package, concerns the poor performance of the MCL38 in slow-speed corners.

The extension of the updates, according to our analysis, tends towards an overall improvement in the dynamic behaviour of the car and also functions to better tyre management.

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