Too hot to handle

Discover how we put the cool in McLaren’s F1 race car

As the 2021 F1 season hots up for a thrilling climax, our Sikkens paint is continuing to set pulses racing with the McLaren F1 team’s stylish livery. What most people don’t realize is that we’ve also added a touch of cool to unseen parts of the Papaya-colored car.

Our high-performance protective coatings are used as an integral part of a sophisticated thermal management system which provides essential heat shielding. 

If you could flip the car over, you’d spot tell-tale silver flashes of Intertherm 50 – from our International product range – which has been applied to critical components surrounding the engine and exhaust to help them withstand temperatures of up to 540˚C.

“We heavily rely on the International Intertherm 50 as our general heat-resistant, reflective coating,” notes Principal Composites Engineer, Steve Foster.

AkzoNobel Senior Product Manager, Ian Fletcher, explains how the product works: “Intertherm 50 is an aluminum pigmented, thin-film silicone coating. Its silver shade comes from the aluminum. It reflects heat due to the way in which the aluminum pigment aligns with the surface of the coating.

“Aluminum has very low emissivity, so reflects a large amount of the infrared heat rays that hit it. This reflective property is why you see marathon runners wrapped in foil. The heat they give out is captured inside the blanket, which allows them to regulate their temperature as their body heat drops.”

Fletcher also points out that a single coat of the product is just 25 microns thick – around a third of the width of a human hair. It’s more conventionally used in the oil and gas and power industries to protect steel from corrosion on areas including flare stacks, chimneys, exhausts, vents and pipework.

Intertherm 50 sits alongside an array of technologies designed to keep the McLaren’s race cars cool, which includes space-age foam from NASA and heat-resistant composites. There’s even gold foil on the chassis to reflect infra-red rays.

All of which goes a long way to making sure that McLaren’s stunning cars perform as well as they look. “It’s a massive design effort,” explains Foster. “There’s so much performance to be gained from managing the flow structure through the car and protecting it from the heat.”

As official paint and coatings partner of the McLaren Racing team, AkzoNobel’s Sikkens brand has helped McLaren to stand out on the grid since 2008. 


AkzoNobel x McLaren

Discover more about our partnership with McLaren Racing