McLaren aim to replicate Red Bull DRS advantage with Vegas update

McLaren is one of a trio of teams that have brought updates to the Las Vegas GP, having made a significant change in its rear-wing composition to chase Red Bull’s DRS advantage.

The 6.2km Las Vegas circuit features a 1.9km straight, meaning a powerful DRS will be a significant tool with which to make overtaking manoeuvers during the Grand Prix.

Whilst McLaren has seen significant gains in the second half of the season via several significant updates, resulting in multiple podiums and a healthy fourth place in the Constructors’ standings, Lando Norris has openly admitted he expects the team to struggle at Vegas, as it has done on other low-downforce circuits such as Monza.

To help mitigate the MCL60 deficiencies in low-downforce spec, the Woking-based outfit has replicated a Red Bull design trick.

The MCL60 is sporting a single-beam wing design this weekend, which Red Bull uses to increase DRS gains compared to rivals who use a double-beam wing.

Red Bull is able to achieve this by having a significant advantage when it comes to generating downforce from the RB19’s overall aero package, something other teams have failed to replicate and thus cannot commit to the single beam wing design.

However, McLaren is hopeful it can overcome this hurdle, just as Red Bull has, and has reprofiled the rear wing flaps to work in conjunction with the single beam wing and produce a more aero-efficient package.

Friday’s extended FP2 session shows McLaren still has some way to go when it comes to optimising its revised package, with Norris and Oscar Piastri both outside the top 10.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 16.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Practice Day.

Alpine is another team that has brought updates to Vegas amid an attempt to maximise the aero-efficiency of its A523 challenger.

The Enstone-based squad has elected to remove the slat from its beam wing, whilst also reducing the lower rear wing profile and removing the rear drum upper flicks in a bid to reduce drag from the rear end of the car.

Alpine has also modified the front wing to ensure an aero balance between the front and the revised, low-drag rear of its car.

Again, like McLaren, Alpine struggled to get the most out of its updates in FP2, with Pierre Gasly finishing 15th and Esteban Ocon 16th, albeit having to run with a new chassis following damage sustained via loose drain cover in the truncated FP1 session.

Aston Martin completes the trio of teams that have brought updates to Vegas, and the AMR23 had better results to show for it compared to McLaren and Alpine.

The Aston is sporting a front wing flap with a shorter chord and reduced incidence compared to its usual specification, to maintain aero balance when running a low-downforce rear wing set-up.

The Silverstone-based team has also sought to close up panels on the engine cover as significant engine cooling isn’t required in the nighttime conditions at Vegas.

Alonso impressed in FP2, posting the third fastest time, with team-mate Lance Stroll also inside the top-10 in eighth, proving that Aston Martin has struck the right aero-balance with its car at this early stage in the weekend.

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