Every Ultimate Series supercar McLaren makes has its own aerodynamic challenges. But while the P1's, Senna's, and Speedtail's aero missions were mainly focused on performance, the biggest aerodynamic challenge of the McLaren Elva was creating a "virtual canopy." Similar to the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar, the Aston Martin V12 Speedster, this unreleased Bugatti concept, and the Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2, the Elva has no roof and no windshield. Although this creates a dramatic design and a pure open-air experience, the wind can be an annoyance without the proper gear such as a helmet and/or goggles. McLaren set out to solve that problem and make it so its drivers and passengers could drive the Elva without any gear whatsoever.
To accomplish this task, McLaren came up with a fairly simple idea that requires complex execution. Essentially, the air that enters the lower intake on the front fascia is put through a J-shaped or hook-shaped duct and mitigates airflow that hits passengers. The duct curves the airflow toward the front of the car at high speeds and interrupts the air flow that is traveling over the hood.
This interruption creates the aforementioned "virtual canopy" that protects those in the car from any air disturbances. The final piece of this technology is a "gurney" just in front of the hood vent that will pop up when traveling at higher speeds to create a bigger bubble. The host of the video, Director of Engineering Design Dan Parry-Williams, says that the bubble is so clearly defined that sticking a hand up into the air path feels like sticking a hand out the window. Parry-Williams explain how it all works in the video above.
In other news, McLaren's motorsport division recently announced it has furloughed its staff and its F1 drivers have taken a pay cut during the pandemic and financial crisis. Read more about what actions McLaren is taking during these uncertain times.