McLaren has its wind tunnel up and running at its technology center as it has notified the FIA about moving itself away from Toyota’s facility.

After years of planning and subsequent execution, McLaren has its own wind tunnel up and running at its technology center thereby moving away from Toyota’s Cologne facility. This comes at a time when there is reports of some linkage with the Japanese manufacturer.

McLaren recently took up Toyota’s WEC driver Ryo Hirakawa as one of its reserve drivers and plan to give him F1 test runs. With the Cologne facility starting to become obsolete due to current standards, the British team wanted to move and create its own system.

It hasn’t been easy coming but the wind tunnel is now live after all their correlation work undertaken in the past few months to make sure it is on the right course. In fact, McLaren has also noted the FIA about their move to their own facility ahead of 2024 season.

The wind tunnel is part of their expansion project after McLaren brought about their next-generation simulator along with upgrades to machine shop, creating its own composites facility and more. The F1 team is readying itself for the larger goals ahead.

“Once the project had been approved, we carried out our design process simultaneously with the demolition of the existing wind tunnel,” Hannah Allan, Engineering Project Manager said. “Demolition involved breaking down the old steelwork into much smaller pieces so that it would fit through the doors and out of the building.

“Looking at the empty space where the old test section once stood, we thought ‘there is no going back now. We’ve received support from so many areas of the business throughout this project. From R&D, Aerodynamics and Software through to Procurement, Finance and the Exec team, it has been a real company-wide effort to deliver this programme.”

To cut costs and decrease wastage, McLaren has retained good chunk of the old facility. They didn’t wish to completely destroy and re-built but rather re-use what can be. The team has also switched to 60% scale model operation from the 50% that they used to.

“It was an enormous project and the biggest investment in Racing since the construction of the MTC,” said Christian Schramm, Director of R&D and Technology. “It was an amazing team effort. There were a lot of sacrifices, extra hours, and extra shifts worked, both during the week and on weekends. This was a complex project, but the team’s hard work ensured we were successful.

“Due to the space restrictions, the tunnel is as high and as wide as it can possibly be. That meant that our designs had to be very specific, which is more time-consuming. For example, the rolling road within the test section is as wide as the door it was delivered through – that was one of our considerations.”

There is still time for the new wind tunnel to see its effect on the McLaren F1 cars. Whatever updates that the current car has seen or will see in the remainder of the year comes off from the work done on the old facility.

But going forward into 2024, the work undertaken in the new facility will see its results on track which McLaren naturally hopes will be the one which pushes the F1 team into world championship picture in the coming years.

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