Called the MCL36, McLaren's new race car is a significant departure from the MCL35M it replaces, due to new design rules introduced by the organizers for 2022 to make races more competitive. Cost caps have also been introduced.
The key change when it comes to the design rules is the return of ground effects, which together with a simplified front wing design should reduce the amount of disrupted, or dirty airflow generated by the cars and as a result make passing easier.
You'll also notice the new 18-inch wheels (up from 13 inches previously). The enlarged wheel and tire combo is meant to resemble something closer to what we use on the street, but it's also designed to reduce overheating and as a result allow drivers to extract more from the tires on each stint, once again helping to improve the competition.
Daniel Ricciardo (left) and Lando Norris
McLaren will once again rely on Mercedes-Benz AMG for power units. The rules require a 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 and two motor-generators, one on the driveline and another integrated with the turbocharger. The rules are largely the same as last season, though teams will now use a fuel containing 10% biofuel. Organizers plans to go to a 100% sustainable fuel model around 2026, when a new power unit design is expected to be introduced.
Piloting the MCL36 for McLaren in the new season will be returning drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. Both drivers have made steady improvements in the prior season, with Ricciardo even bringing home McLaren's first win since 2012, thanks to a stunning run at the Italian Grand Prix, albeit after top drivers Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-Benz AMG crashed out.
Serving as team principal once again is Andreas Seidl, who prior to joining McLaren in 2019 had run Porsche's successful LMP1 program in the World Endurance Championship and also served as head of track operations for the BMW Sauber F1 team during its run from 2006-2009.
The first of F1's two pre-season tests is scheduled for February 23-25 at Spain's Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The first race of the season is the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is scheduled for March 20 at the Bahrain International Circuit.