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The McLaren MP4-4 for me is the best F1 car ever produced. Its record speaks for itself as it went on to win 15 of the 16 GP's in 1988.  When we look back through the record books its usually the drivers that are lauded for their achievement in a given season.  However F1 offers a situation that requires both Man & Machine to be in unison, without the advantage the MP4/4 gave Ayrton and Alain would they have taken so many victories that season? We will never know the answer to this question.  Looking back over nearly 25 years of innovation though could the rules have allowed for an even more dominant car?

I'm going to try and implement a modern take on the MP4-4 using current technology and safety regulations whilst sticking to the Technical Regulations of 1988 (Unfortunately at present I'm still looking for a set of the 1988 regulations/rulebook/yellowbook, so if you have them or know someone who does please let me know)

I'm not going to simply stick bits on an MP4-4 but use the cars original design cues whilst utilising knowledge that has been developed since it's use almost 25 years ago. Obviously many innovations have come and subsequently been banned since 88 and as I develop the modern version we will look more carefully at some of these concepts and decide on their inclusion for the overall design ethos.

Some early considerations to look at:

Possible Area's of Aero development

Front Wing endplates and additional surface area'
Nose Height and interaction with FW
Floor area exposed
Outer Wheel Covers
Aerodynamic Brake Ducts
Decked Diffusers
Turning Vanes / Flow Conditioners / Vortex Generators in prominent flow area's

Possible Area's of Mechanical/Engine/Drivetrain Development

Paddle Shifting Semi Automatic Gearbox (Look at when it arrived in F1)
Mass Damper and/or other reactive ride height solutions
Off Throttle Diffuser mapping
KERS (Would have to be mechanical power storage as high capacity batteries weren't available at this time)

As I don't have a team of engineers and designers and/or the money/facilities of a team I'm quite sure a low end modern team with the same regulations from 88 could come up with a superior design.  However I thought this could be a fun and engaging project for people to also have input in and engage.

I have purchased a Tamiya 1:20 scale model of the MP4/4 to give a representation of the old vs new design and was hoping that perhaps someone with some decent modelling/CFD skills may come on board to help with that side.  I may also build a home brew wind tunnel in order to see what sort of flow differentials the two designs have.

This post will be edited with the links to each new blog post I make on the subject of the modern MP4-4 interpretation and will also use the #modernMP4-4 for related twitter posts

Lastly I must point out that at present I'm doing this without direct contact with McLaren and my only contact with McLaren concerning the project was with their Technical Director Paddy Lowe via Twitter who had this to say:

Paddy do you know where I could get a set of the 1988 regs? Want to work on a modern take of the MP4-4 for the 25th anniversary

for 1988 regulations you need the FIA yearbook (little yellow book) - try eBay. I don't have 1988. Great idea BTW!



  1. Have you checked Lewis Hamilton's twitter account?

  2. fun idea. how is his project coming along?

  3. Firstly I love your blog, keep up the good work!
    Awesome idea for a project, I'm a mechanical engineer with good 3D modelling and CFD skills, plus access to CFD and CAD packages. I would be willing to contribute and lend my services if wanted.

    send me an email:

  4. One thing to add, a lot more carbon fiber.

  5. Any news about this awesome project?


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