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Too hot to handle

Discover how we put the cool in McLaren’s new MCL35

How hot does the McLaren Racing team’s new MCL35 Formula 1 car look this year? Once again, our Sikkens paint is helping it to set pulses racing. This season, however, we’re also adding a touch of cool to unseen parts of the car.

Our high-performance protective coatings are being 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 MCL35 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 new car performs as well as it looks. “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 the MCL35 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. With a new look and design for the 2020 season, all painted parts of the latest race car – as well as the team’s transport, garage and accessories – feature AkzoNobel’s high-performance products.