McLaren 38

Too hot to handle

Find out how we help McLaren’s F1 car keep its cool

Another sizzling F1 season is about to get underway – and things have really started to heat up now that McLaren Racing has unveiled its new MCL38.

Having extended our long-running partnership with McLaren Racing in 2022, we’re extremely proud to have remained their official supplier of coatings solutions for the last 16 years.


Red hot lap times and sizzling chicane skills aren’t the only things that send temperatures soaring during a typical F1 Grand Prix.

Critical components surrounding the engine and exhaust of the cars also have to withstand heat that can nudge the mercury upwards of 1,000°C. So what can be done to keep these areas cool?

Flip over McLaren Racing’s MCL38 and you’ll notice that various parts of the underside feature our Intertherm 50 high temperature coating, which helps to provide heat shielding. Identified by its tell-tale silver coloring, it forms part of a sophisticated thermal management system.

“We heavily rely on Intertherm 50 as our general heat-resistant, reflective coating,” says McLaren’s Principal Composites Engineer, Steve Foster. “We also apply it to the internal surfaces of the heatshield – so the unmolded face gets a layer of Intertherm 50 as another protective barrier from the heat.”

So what is Intertherm 50 exactly? AkzoNobel’s Ian Fletcher, Senior Product Manager for Aesthetic and Temperature Resistant Coatings at our Marine and Protective Coatings business, has the answers. But before he gets technical, it’s time for a fascinating fact. A single coat of Intertherm 50 is just 25 microns thick, around a third of the width of a human hair.

“It’s an aluminum pigmented, thin-film silicone coating – its silver color comes from the aluminum,” explains Ian. “In the Marine and Protective Coatings business, we typically use Intertherm 50 on high temperature process pipes and equipment found in the oil and gas markets.

“McLaren has found that the aluminum in Intertherm 50 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.”

Although we rarely get to see it, there’s clearly a completely different – and utterly fascinating – world lurking beneath the MCL38. For example, you’ll also find gold foil under there. But that’s another story. 

You’ll have more luck spotting our Sikkens products, which are being used across the McLaren Racing team’s portfolio, including their factory, transport, the pit lane, garage and equipment. Luckily, none of those move quite as fast as the MCL38!

If you want a whirlwind, behind-the-scenes tour of the McLaren F1 garage, take a look at this video, which shows exactly where you’ll find our coatings.

Driving innovation

We’ve actually achieved several improvements in paint technology since first teaming up with McLaren Racing in 2008. As well as contributing to the performance of their F1 cars, the advances we’ve made have also crossed over to drive innovation in other industries.

This kind of close collaboration has also expanded into other areas of our partnership. For example, our Coral brand recently worked with McLaren Racing on a “Let’s Colour” project near the Interlagos circuit in São Paulo, Brazil.  A stunning mural was painted onto a local community center, which is designed to help raise awareness for gender equality.

Mural awareness for gender equality

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