Monday 11th March 2013


LAFERRARI VS MCLAREN P1 VS VENENO: AERO BATTLES

Hypercars? They're all about the aero, say representatives


One word linked the three hypercars launched at Geneva: 'functionality'. We heard it from the designer of the sci-fi villian that is the Lamborghini Veneno, the Ferrari LaFerrari product manager and a spokesman for McLaren about the P1.

They weren't talking about the amount of soft, Italian-leather bags you could squeeze into the boot. Rather, it was used to mean that all those swoops, wings, fins and splitters served a real purpose. Each car was claimed to be an aerodynamic masterpiece and as far as the bigwigs were concerned, this was where the bragging rights were coming from.

McLaren says its aero is more advanced
McLaren says its aero is more advanced
In fact, it was the first thing Ron Dennis told us when we collared him on the Ferrari stand as he got his first good look at The Ferrari. "It's obviously a very different approach to the one we've adopted, ours is more dedicated to aerodynamic performance," he said. "We are using the underbody to create downforce."

McLaren Automotive's acting boss Mike Flewitt said something similar. "Their approach looks to be far more conventional," he told us.

There's a host of active aerodynamics on both cars, including a wing on the McLaren that extends 30cm and an automatically rising spoiler on the Ferrari. McLaren also throws in RaceActive Chassis Control that lowers the car by 50mm in race-mode and creates the 'sucking' ground effect Dennis was talking about.

The McLaren will make 600kg of downforce, says the firm, whereas Ferrari wouldn't comment on LaFerrari's figure. What it did say was that aerodynamics were at the heart of the car, "We integrated design with the aerodynamics from the first days of the development," Andrea Bassi, product marketing manager told us. He did have a little pop at McLaren after we told him what Dennis had said. "We try to make aerodynamics with the shape of the car, not to have bigger wings and things like that."

Actually, it was probably more aimed at Lamborghini, whose 3.1 million Veneno really looked like it made the 500kg+ of downforce claimed by the company thanks to its outrageous fixed wing, Le Mans-inspired fin and again, underbody downforce.

Veneno wears its aero influence on its sleeve
Veneno wears its aero influence on its sleeve
Just as with Ferrari, the aero team was involved right from the off. "The whole car started with a long discussion with our aerodynamics guys and we began with the underfloor," Lamborghini's head designer Filippo Perini told us. The reason? "We want our customers to be fastest on the track." All three of them.

Chief braggart though was McLaren. "Our car, I am certain, will be faster round a track, without a doubt," Flewitt said, comparing the P1 with LaFerrari. And at the P1's launch at the show, Dennis said he reckoned the P1 would break the Nurburgring's production car lap record with a sub seven-minute time. He also said he'd personally broken the Top Gear track lap time by 10 seconds in the P1.

Flewitt summed it up. "We have far more active aerodynamics. I think we have a better breadth of powertrain and quite honestly I think we have a far more beautiful car."

Gloves are off, Ferrari. But will it accept McLaren's Nurburgring challenge and go for the lap record?

Author: NickGibbs
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