McLaren trying to crack chassis token issue ahead of Mercedes switch
McLaren technical director James Key has revealed the team is introducing a host of upgrades now in a bid to overcome its chassis tokens issues for 2021.
The chassis tokens system has been designed to counteract the stagnant nature of Formula 1's regulations after a decision was taken to delay until 2022 the introduction of the highly revised cars due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But with a switch from Renault to Mercedes power units for McLaren heading into next season, the team will be left without any tokens and therefore unable to make large developments.
Key has explained the more the team can bring to the car before this season's end - such as the new front structure seen on the MCL35 since Russia - will help reduce the impact of being stranded without tokens.
"We don't have chassis tokens to develop our car," confirmed Key. "We are kind of unique in that respect.
"Other teams will have them, and we don't because they are effectively taken up with the engine change we are having to do. So where we do have freedoms, we would like to exploit them whilst we can whilst they are not being homologated.
"I don't think they have driven this package particularly, that we have done. The nose was on plan anyway from the early days and it is working as hoped, but we had to hit the September deadline for homologation with that.
"But certainly, anything we can do this year that mitigates the fact we haven't got the chassis tokens going into next year would help. Some of the things that we will be bringing to the next couple of races will be part of that."
One thing all teams are preparing for is the change in aerodynamic regulations aimed at curbing the downforce levels achieved by the cars next season.
Whilst acknowledging the changes are necessary, Key conceded it was a shame the regulations had to be adjusted.
"There is a very good technical reason for it," he added. "Obviously, we didn't expect to carry these regulations over into '21 so a lot of the other areas that support what we do weren't ready for that.
"One of those, of course, was the tyres. This will be the third season of using the tyre spec whilst the cars were being developed so it is the right thing to do to address it.
"It does mean that we have some unique developments to do for '21 when there is still a lot we need to do for '22. Still, we can't aero-develop for '22 right now so that is going to hit pretty hard in January.
"So, I think it is an unfortunate consequence of circumstances but it makes sense to do it and I think there is a fair bit to do to develop slightly different philosophies because of the implications of these regs.
"It will be an area which is completely new to us and it will be an area that will develop more next year than it would otherwise, so it does have an effect."
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