In the days following the Australian Grand Prix, among the various other race postponements and cancellations, and the news that the rule changes proposed for 2021 would be held over for another year, McLaren confirmed that it was going ahead with its plan to switch from Renault power units to Mercedes.
While the mounts for all four makes of power unit have to be the same, the different architecture of the Mercedes unit meant that changes would need to be made to the MCL35’s chassis, though the rules appeared to suggest this would not be allowed as it was made clear that no changes could be made to the 2020 cars heading into 2021 other than aero development.
McLaren has now confirmed however that it has been given permission to make the necessary changes.
“The decision does not impact our change to Mercedes power units in 2021, and we will be allowed to make the necessary changes to our car to accommodate this,” revealed team boss, Andreas Seidl.
In terms of holding over the rules overhaul, the German said: “From the outset, we have been a leading supporter of the new sporting and technical regulations for 2021. They present the opportunity to deliver an exciting new era for Formula 1.
“Nevertheless, there is no escaping the severity of the pressures faced by the sport right now. In the same way that decision to introduce the new regulations was aimed at improving the long-term health of Formula 1, the decision to postpone them has been made in the same vein.
“We support the postponement and have played an active part in the conversation around doing so. We recognise that it is crucial to protect the financial health of all the teams while ensuring a level playing field when we do go racing.
“Currently, the key focus for everyone in the team is on staying safe,” he added, referring to the decision to bring the summer break forward and extend the mandatory shutdown. “Prior to shutdown, much of the team are working from home, with only critical staff working in the factory on split shift working schedules. This enables us to be ready to go racing again as soon as we can, while minimising the risk to our team.
“We all want to go racing and we carry that passion with us whatever our working arrangements are. The effort doesn’t stop, we just make sure that we are working in a safe manner.
“Our shutdown period will be from Wednesday 25 March to Tuesday 14 April inclusive,” he added. “In addition to reducing financial pressure, a synchronised shutdown among all teams is not only a logical way to safeguard the wellbeing of our people and prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it also provides the opportunity to reschedule postponed races from August and beyond and give fans a spectacular summer of racing.”
Asked for an update on the team members forced to remain in quarantine in Australia, he said: “They’re doing well, I stayed out with them for a couple of extra days and some senior members of the team are still there with them.
“All the team members who had been tested as a precaution tested negative, which is fantastic news. The person that had tested positive is now feeling well and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the UK this week.”