Legal or not? McLaren ingenious winglet suspension causes a buzz in Jerez paddock

Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-29

Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-29

Weird and wonderful nose solutions are attracting most of the obvious attention early in the 2014 Formula 1 season, but behind the scenes, engineers are far more interested in what is lurking at the rear of McLaren’s innovative new MP4-29.

Auto Motor und Sport has called it an “ingenious trick”, explaining that designers for the great British team have used the rear suspension to mimic the now-banned wing profiles beneath the main wing.

“It will be interesting to see if Charlie Whiting is responsive,” the report said. “If he does not object, the competition will have to catch up quickly.”

A report on Formula 1’s official website said that the McLaren solution “is considered legal by the FIA”, but rival teams are likely to protest loudly.

McLaren MP4-29 rear diffuser and exhaust detail

McLaren MP4-29 rear diffuser and exhaust detail

That is because of how difficult a complete re-design of entire rear suspension layouts would prove.

It seems that the likes of James Allison and Adrian Newey, perhaps the most respected technical brains in Formula 1, were caught by surprise.

“All I’ve seen are some blurry pictures,” Ferrari’s Allison said, “but I would like to know more about it because it does interest me.”

Red Bull’s Newey seemed to doubt the legality of McLaren’s solution.

“I have not seen the photos,” he said, “but as it is described, it sounds as though there are eight suspension elements, where only six are allowed. Moreover, there are clear rules for the width of the suspension.”

AM&S said that the FIA gave McLaren “the green light” last summer. (GMM)

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  • RBC

    I would laugh if Newey didn’t find a loophole in the rules and then spent his time trying to stop someone else enjoying it.

  • mik

    I didn’t see that rear suspension on the mclaren website car 360 degree render I feel cheated.

  • Elfredore

    Once again the most dishonest team in the history of F1 is at it again, only this time unlike the “octopus exhaust” it looks like their idea might have some merit.

    But much like their theft of Ferrari designs, they won’t get away with it.

    I’m sure Newey already considered this idea, but as he says in the article; “it sounds as though there are eight suspension elements, where only six are allowed. Moreover, there are clear rules for the width of the suspension.”

    Not to mention the fact that suspension components move, if these winglets affect aerodynamics, then they should be viewed as movable aerodynamic components, which (apart from DRS) are of course illegal.

  • Urko

    I think that this, lets call it “Aero suspension”, will have even bigger impact on performance of the car than Newey’s blown bifuzor had. Very smart solution and probably legal.

  • LOL

    They should let them keep it. mclaren needs all the help they can get.

  • Matthew

    Very cool, but if it is attached to the suspension it is illegal. Maybe mclaren will find a loophole and be allowed to keep it? I cant tell if its attached to the suspension for sure, but the exhaust clearly blows on it. A sneaky coanda effect? I love this kind of stuff!

  • Ange


    “the most dishonest team in the history of the F1″????

    Surely you must be talking about Ferrari and not McLaren!

    The FIA, aka Ferrari International Assistance, would never ban anything on the Ferrari car and would never impose any fines to their beloved friends! Abu Dhabi 2013 comes to mind, and of course the BIG spygate scandal where McLaren got fined $100m and Ferrari was fined nothing even though a member of their team offered the papers to McLaren!

    Ferrari even has a special vote on FIA meetings according to Montezemolo!

  • Hugo

    It is not attached to the suspension, it IS the suspension.

  • Charlie Whiting is a joke

    Charlie Whiting is a complete joke. The guy has no clue what is going on and does stupid things every year.

    Anyone else caught making the mistakes and doing the dumb things he has been documented doing would be fired from their job.

    Charlie Whiting must have photo’s of Bernie with a goat to keep his job.

  • Matthew


    Why would ferrari be fined for mclaren bribing one of their employees to STEAL info? Yes steal. Mclaren STOLE info. All the teams cheat in one way or another, but is anyone aware of another team that can accurately be called thieves? So I am inclined to agree that mclaren are the most dishonest team in F1.

  • Anna

    It is not attached to the suspension, it IS the suspension.”

    I believe you are right, Hugo. The suspension rod is moulded at that point into a winglet.

  • BoycottThe Haters

    “It is not attached to the suspension, it IS the suspension.”

    It’s still illegal because the suspension moves, and moving aerodynamic pieces are banned.

  • BoycottThe Haters

    “AM&S said that the FIA gave McLaren “the green light” last summer.”

    Yes, right about the same time the FIA was giving Mercedes “the green light” for their illegal tyre test!

  • Ian

    Who knows if it’s legal nor not. This is F1 and legality is more about politics than anything else.

    The Mercedes Tyre-gate case in point. Convicted on all 3 counts, yet given a ridiculously light sentence.

    Either way, FIA needs to rule about the legality quickly. Then other teams can either rebuild their cars with the new aero-suspension or McLaren can be sent back to Woking to do a redesign.

    Cars need ready for Melbourne and we don’t need a prolonged legal battle again, again, again.

  • haha

    As a tifosi I say let them keep it, up to the others to catch up. And Newey has to shut it, his adjustable frontwings, blown diffuser, pirelli changing in their benefit halfway the season, veto on budget cap, cheating on max. allowed personal and garage cerfew are all against the spirit of the sport (as was the Merc test). Senna killer!

  • Matthew

    Calling newey a senna killer is unbelievably asinine. You sir, deserve the ban hammer in a very big way!

  • farizY

    So let say this gives McLaren a hugeeee advantage over its rival, can we say who ever wins the WDC in these cars are fake champions,NOT true champions?
    Because everyone has been whining about Vettel domination saying that it is the car, not the person driving it. Am I right?

  • Taskmaster

    Seems simple enough: The suspension components are acting as aerodynamic components and move, therefore are movable aerodynamic components. Why have other teams not protested yet? Simple. They are evaluating whether it has any value (seems to be a big drag creator in the era of gas mileage, so may be a moot point) and the effort it would take to duplicate it first. If it works and the system is too difficult to copy, they will protest this. If it works and is copy-able, it will be on every car soon enough, illegal or not. Why the FIA pre-approved this is a mystery. If a wheel hub center is a movable aerodynamic device, then certainly the rear suspension arms are. What a sham.

  • haha

    Matthew, maybe have google search on “senna files” and find out what really happened. Why was the steering shaft replaced just before? Newey did have to go to court as was P.Head, all they did was telling lie after lie. Senna had to go in my opinion, it was certainly no steering error on his behalf that’s 100 % sure. Why do you think Williams was taken away their gizmo’s when Ayrton joined the team while the Benetton’s where fully illegal under Flavio. All I know for a fact is that Ayrton was boycotted from the moment he entered F1. You know for many Ayrton has 4 titles because he was robbed at least 1 title due to J.M. Ballestre who happened to be French. Massa was also robbed of one by cheating Alonso, as was Lewis in his rookie season also due to Alonso. Did you see Ayrton’s expression on his face before the Imola start? Next to Roland on his mind he knew something was off. I also know that Ayrton would have been furious that while Roland is practically forgotten and never spoken about, he is seen as a postume hero. He would not have liked it at all.

  • Matthew

    @haha I’m not a conspiracy theory fan. I’m also not digging my way through all the biased senna was a god and everyone else is wrong articles. I know senna was to brazil what schumi is to germany, so I understand the passion. Even if its all based on childish theories with no evidence. Brazil is the biggest fan of soap operas in the world, I believe that is relevant to the “senna files”