The last few seasons in Formula 1 haven’t exactly been the most competitive or exciting sport, but the guys at McLaren, despite a truly awful 215 campaign, have cheered us up massively with the amazing McLaren MP4-X concept racer.
The car is about as bonkers and outlandish as you could hope for; the MP4-X doesn’t have to worry about carbon dioxide emissions and the drivers don’t have to worry about using overly complicated steering wheel to drive the car, as the MP-X is driven through the use of hand gestures or even the power of thought.
McLaren’s Applied Technologies department is the brains behind the MP4-X project, the same division that helps branch out the company’s F1 R&D to other fields and the project was very much an “open brief”.
“We wanted to peer into the future and imagine the art of the possible,” commented group brand director John Alert. That vision of the future sees F1 circuits electrified and electrodes turn air into plasma, while also one that is free from the current constraints of F1, both in terms of cost and rules. Despite this, McLaren insists everything used to produce the MP4-X is real.
The electric-powered MP4-X is powered through “thin batteries” integrated into there car’s bodywork, as opposed one big battery, and these would be charged via solar panels on the MP4-X’s external shell, regenerative braking and of course, inductive charging built into the tracks.
Through the recent spates of concern regarding open cockpits, McLaren has decided to effectively show its hand in the matter with a closed canopy. The driver’s helmet would be set up in a way to see feeds from outside the car and allow them to see through the car, giving them the best visibility.
Meanwhile, McLaren’s research into ALS has seen them harness the power of thought into the MP4-X, with the car able to monitor a driver’s electrical signals in their brain, with hand gestures available as an alternative.
The exterior of the McLaren MP4-X is similarly high-tech and futuristic, making use of ground effects, active aero and is folded into a shape that cuts into the air as efficiently as possible. Surfaces of the car can shift into position to optimise the required downforce at any particular moment, while an active rear wing would utilise powerfully charge electrodes in the corners to turn the air around it into plasma.
Close wheel racing is also another factor on the table for F1 and again, McLaren has stepped in with the MP4-X to address the issue by enclosing the car’s wheels, with the covers able to monitor wear on the tyres. This would help detect any immediate worry of exploding tyres, as we saw at Silverstone not long ago.
Not only does the McLaren MP4-X address many safety issues in the sport of F1, it looks at ways it might reinvigorate the series as a whole, with many feeling rather negative towards the Bernie Ecclestone travelling circus. We’ll not see something such as this for many years, but the MP4-X gives hope to those sad to see the biggest spectator sport in the business fail to give them the kicks they expect.