The intriguing McLaren change teased in its F1 2022 fire-up video

The all-new 2022 rules means designs are much more constrained by regulation than in the recent past, and it means that any differences between teams will undoubtedly lead to a great deal of scrutiny.

McLaren certainly appears to be one team that is doing things very differently this year, as it has teased some important concept shifts in images and video it has released on social media.

Having already shown off a slightly revised airbox and roll hoop design when teasing a chassis build picture on its Instagram feed, it has now teased a change in approach to the front suspension design in its most recent fire-up video.

There had been speculation amongst the technical community about the possible return of a pull rod front suspension layout for 2022 being the preferred route for teams, given the regulation change. And it appears that McLaren have done just that.

There’s a scene in the fire-up video where McLaren CEO Zak Brown is being filmed using his smartphone to capture a clip. The camera focuses in as he pans towards the front of the car and we get a brief glimpse of the front suspension layout from the rear.

What we see suggests McLaren is moving to the pull- rod configuration. Such a change is not completely unexpected, as McLaren actually ran the layout in 2013, having followed Ferrari’s lead when it introduced the layout in 2012.

However, while Ferrari continued to utilise the arrangement on the three cars that followed, McLaren abandoned the design and switched back to a push rod layout as it chased other aerodynamic endeavours.

Ferrari SF16-H and SF15-T comparison
McLaren front detail

There are pros and cons to both pull and push rod arrangements but, with the new regulations forcing teams to run a much more strictly-defined nose structure, which will sit much lower, the design of the chassis will also follow suit.

Furthermore, the upright extensions that teams used during the last few years have also been outlawed, along with the more aggressive push rod-on-upright solutions and hydraulic assistance. This means teams have to totally rethink their approach, both mechanically and aerodynamically.

There’s little difference in the behaviour or compliance of both solutions, but there are differences in the placement of the weight in the chassis, with the suspension elements mounted lower in the chassis in a pull rod setup.

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This has some centre of gravity benefits, but complicates things a little more for the mechanics that have to work on the car.

A pull rod layout can also increase the design scope for the upper surface of the nose and chassis, as teams are not restricted by the suspension components housed within the chassis.

However, some might consider the aerodynamic performance benefits from a push rod layout in being able to shape the lower half of the nose and chassis.

Invariably there’s no right or wrong answer about which direction is best, and we may see a mix of solutions amongst the teams as they make choices that suit their overall design concepts.

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