- Scale guide
An evolution of the MCL35, a car that helped the team to third in the Constructors’ Championship in 2020 – its best performance in eight years, the McLaren MCL35M was McLaren Racing’s challenger for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Piloting the MCL35M was one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the sport, with 21-year-old British driver Lando Norris, in his third season in Formula 1 with the team, joined by Australian seven-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo.
The MCL35 was effectively redesigned, despite most of the regulations being frozen in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Given that McLaren had already signed a contract to use Mercedes-AMG engines in 2021 before the decision to reuse 2020 chassis was made, it received special dispensation – subject to FIA inspection – to modify its chassis to accommodate the new engine and energy store, which required a complete redesign of the car’s architecture. The 1600cc V6 Mercedes-AMG M12 E Performance power unit was integrated into the design of the MCL35M by McLaren with the support of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains. It represented one of several key changes to the car as part of its evolution into the MCL35M, replacing the previous Renault E-Tech 20. Despite switching engines, McLaren did not switch gearboxes and so the team’s engineers needed to create their own, along with updated fuel, hydraulic, electrical and cooling systems.
The wheelbase of the car was lengthened, as the gearbox bell housing had to be extended to accommodate the Mercedes engine. The aerodynamic potential of the MCL35M could not be maximised due to the FIA's 2021 token system, leading McLaren to implement most aerodynamic upgrades for the switch in the 2020 season ahead of the homologation cut-off date, such as the car’s nosecone. The team focused its efforts on reducing the impact of the 2021 regulations on downforce, which necessitated removal of front downforce to rebalance the car. Many of the changes in bodywork shape were dictated by the engine installation but others are just continued development, based on the team’s learnings from the 2020 season and down to the changes in the regulations.
After a decent showing in pre-season testing, setting several fastest laps without any major reliability issues, the team started the season well, scoring points regularly. Norris finished in fourth position at the opening race in Bahrain, quickly following it up with a third-place podium at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where he narrowly lost out to the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages. Fifth and eighth placed finishes followed in Portugal and Spain before Norris earned a second podium finishing, claiming third in the Monaco Grand Prix after a holding off the advancing Red Bull of Sergio Pérez on the narrow street circuit. Ricciardo struggled to match his British teammate’s early performances but was initially scoring consistent points for the team. In Portugal, the Australian driver recovered from a poor qualifying, where he started sixteenth on the grid, to finish nineth.
By round six in Azerbaijan, it was clear that McLaren’s closest rival in the battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship would be Ferrari. The Italians briefly passed their British rival after Baku, despite Norris and Ricciardo finishing in fifth and ninth places, though the team from Woking regained the lead after a stronger showing in France as Ferrari struggled with tyre degradation. This game of leapfrog would continue for the rest of the season. Ricciardo failed to score any points in the Styrian Grand Prix, suffering from power unit issues, whilst Norris recorded his third consecutive fifth place finish. At the following Austrian Grand Prix, Norris earned his career-best qualifying result, starting the race in second after setting a time only 0.048 seconds from polesitter Max Verstappen. He finished the race third, recovering from a penalty to overtake Hamilton on lap 52. A strong showing of fourth and fifth at the British Grand Prix added more points to the tally. The team suffered huge misfortune at the following Hungarian Grand Prix: both drivers were caught up in the carnage on the opening lap as the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas ploughed into Lando Norris, leading to his retirement, and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll collided with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari who was himself forced into Ricciardo, spinning the Australian and damaging his car. It was to be McLaren’s only non-points scoring weekend of the year.
The duo looked quick at the Belgian Grand Prix after the summer break, with Ricciardo qualifying fourth. Norris set the fastest times in Q1 and Q2 before losing control at Eau Rogue and crashing heavily. Substantial rain prevented the race from starting and the results were drawn from the end of the first lap, giving Ricciardo fourth position and Norris fourteenth. A tough race followed in the Netherlands, where the team scored just a single point, but the drivers bounced back in style at Monza. After sprint qualifying and polesitter Bottas taking an engine penalty, Ricciardo started second and Norris fourth, in the perfect position to take advantage when title rivals Verstappen and Hamilton collided on lap 25. Ricciardo claimed the fastest lap on the race on the final lap and led Norris home to claim McLaren's first one-two finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix and first win since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. Norris followed this fantastic result with took a pole position, the first in his career, at the next race in Russia. He led much of the race but devastatingly lost the lead with just two laps left as he aquaplaned off the track, just moments after disagreeing with his team’s calls to switch him to intermediate tyres. Ricciardo, however, had switched tyres earlier and claimed fourth position.
From there, McLaren’s season started to fade. After Russia, McLaren held an eighteen lead over Ferrari, but the Italians regained the advantage after Mexico, creating a points buffer McLaren finally could not overcome. Norris continued to score points, but never finished higher than seventh in the final seven races of the season. Ricciardo finished fifth twice but failed to score any further points. McLaren scored 73 more points than they did in 2020 but were ultimately defeated by a resurgent Ferrari, bouncing back from their previous disappointing campaign.
Overall, the McLaren MCL35 earned one victory, four further podiums, one pole position and two fastest laps, scoring 275 points and finishing fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. Norris and Ricciardo finished sixth and eighth in the Drivers’ Championship respectively.
This fine 1:8 scale model of McLaren MCL35M is as raced by Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the Formula 1 Heineken Gran Premio d'Italia on the 12th of September 2021. In a stunning turn of events, Ricciardo led home his teammate Norris to claim McLaren's first one-two finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix and first win since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. Initially, Norris qualified fourth and Ricciardo fifth for the second sprint of the season. During sprint qualifying, Ricciardo moved up to third and Norris to fourth after both overtaking Lewis Hamilton at turn two. The duo were both promoted a further place after provisional polesitter Bottas took an engine penalty, putting Ricciardo on the front row alongside Max Verstappen. A fantastic start from the Australian saw him pass Verstappen into the first corner, while Norris defended from Hamilton behind. After the first round of pit stops, Verstappen and Hamilton collided, leaving the McLarens free to challenge for the win. Norris overtook Charles Leclerc, who had taken advantage of pitting under the safety car and closely shadowed Ricciardo to the finish line. It was Ricciardo’s first win since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix and he rounded the day off perfectly, setting the fastest lap on the race on the final lap. Remarkably this race was the only occasion that a team achieved a 1-2 victory during the 2021 season.
The McLaren MCL35M is limited to just 50 pieces at 1:8 scale.
This model is a part of the 2021 McLaren MCL35 Collection.
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