New McLaren design ace imparts flavour of Red Bull
Peter Prodromou, formerly Adrian Newey’s right-hand man, gives the McLaren MP4-30 an Alonso-pleasing familiar new look
Fernando Alonso spent a considerable amount of time at the Jerez test deep in conversation with McLaren’s new chief engineer, Peter Prodromou, the team’s star signing from Red Bull.
Prodromou worked as Adrian Newey’s righthand man for the best part of two decades, rst at McLaren and then at Red Bull, after Newey insisted Prodromou come with him as part of the package when he joined the Milton Keynes-based team in 2006.
As such, Prodromou knows all the secrets that have made the Red Bull cars so competitive over the past six years – as well as those of the racewinning McLarens of the early- to mid-2000s.
Alonso tried to secure a drive with Red Bull during the summer of 2014, and got a long way down the line with team boss Christian Horner and Newey, only for Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz to insist they take Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, a graduate of the energy drink rm’s driver development scheme.
But the signs are that Alonso has now effectively got his hands on a Red Bull, only one that has been built by McLaren. There are Red Bull signatures all over McLaren’s MP430. These start at the front wing, which has a very similar multi-element design aimed at consistent stable downforce. This replaces the type of wing favoured by McLaren over the past couple of years, which had fewer elements and created more downforce, but was more prone to instability-inducing stall.
The top nose shape is also similar to that of last year’s Red Bull, and the shrink-wrapped rear bodywork – what McLaren call their ‘size zero’ car – is shaped like a Red Bull, only more tightly wrapped around what is clearly a very neatly and carefully designed Honda engine.
Alonso was very positive about the new McLaren’s behaviour in Jerez, more so than Jenson Button, who found its balance not quite to his liking. If the Honda engine is any good, will it also show a Red Bull-style winning turn of pace? It would hardly come as a surprise.
Alonso (left) wanted to get his hands on a Red Bull, and Prodromou (right) was only too happy to oblige