McLaren MP4-31 for the 2016 Formula 1 season

McLaren MP4-31 technology check
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M last year cLaren became the laughing stock of the season . Neither in terms of speed nor reliability, the MP4-30 presented itself as competitive. Internally, there was a huge crunch between the English chassis designers and the Japanese engine supplier. The contract extension limbo with Jenson Button and the regular radio criticism from Fernando Alonso ('GP2 engine') caused additional disruptions.

In the second year of the McLaren-Honda comeback, everything should finally get better. The cracks in the tension between Japan and England were filled. McLaren noticed that the ambitions in the debut season were too high. In accordance with the internal 'size zero philosophy', everything in the rear was built ultra-compactly. The cooling and stability suffered as a result.

In order to survive a race distance at all, the engineers had to regularly turn down the power. Size Zero is still around, but in a slightly less extreme form. Even if the team management has not formulated any fixed goals, they want to fight for points at least regularly and attack the podium again at some point during the season.

Technical data McLaren MP4-31

  • Model: McLaren MP4-31
  • Engine: Honda RA616H
  • Gasoline: Esso /Mobil
  • Wheel manufacturer: Enkei
  • Brakes: Akebono
  • Length: 5,095 mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,534 mm (2016: 3,491 mm)
  • Front overhang: 1,003 mm
  • Angle of attack: 1.9 °


Without improvements to the McLaren can pack a Honda engine straight away. In the second week of testing, the Japanese finally delivered the revised V6 hybrid unit, which will also be used in this form in Melbourne. However, not all mappings were programmed in Barcelona. In terms of horsepower and drivability, there is still a little more in it than has been shown, emphasize the engineers.

Over the winter, Honda has mainly worked on the deficit in terms of hybrid power. The turbo is now larger so that the MGU-H can generate energy more frequently. The capacity of the MGU-K has also been increased. 'We can now boost a whole lap on all tracks,' promises team principal Eric Boullier. This means that McLaren is as far as the competition last year. But the opponents are now one step further.


The modification in terms of drive has also affected the aerodynamics. Hybrid elements and cooling have been rearranged. From the outside it can be clearly seen that the McLaren MP4-31 is slightly wider in the upper part of the rear than its predecessor. But the side box is more undercut. This should improve the flow to the diffuser. Aesthetes complain that the McLaren has lost a little of its elegance.

In the front area of ​​the car, the engineers have integrated all of the technical tricks that are currently standard in Formula 1. The air is guided upwards through the nose via the S-duct. Air ducting through the front axle is also on board the MP4-31. It improves the flow around the side pods.

The most interesting detail on the new McLaren is the unusual front axle geometry. The rear upper wishbone is lower than its front counterpart. This should ensure a quieter flow of air to the side pods. The wide front wing bracket, which is provided with a prominent slot, is also unusual. No other car has this feature. It is also worth taking a look at the rear wing and the elegant monkey seat. You can already see from the outside that the McLaren engineers have put a lot of development effort into this (see gallery).


During the test drives, the pilots were satisfied with the progress on the car. In the first races of the year, the main thing now is to regain the reliability that has been lost. With 3,305 kilometers, McLaren was still in the lower midfield in the tests. Only when the technology is bombproof can the engineers slowly increase performance. There is still some homework waiting for the technicians.

During the test drives, Button and Alonso let the improved speed flash again and again. The potential for the hoped-for increase in performance seems to be there. It shouldn't be the budget or the technical capacities in Woking and Sakura. It is only a matter of time before the sleeping giant wakes up. But we expect a few more hard hours for McLaren fans at least until the summer break.


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