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New McLaren tests in Barcelona 24 Jan 2005

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), McLaren Mercedes MP4-20. McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 First Test, Barcelona, Spain. 24 January 2005. World © SUTTON

McLaren’s new car, the MP4-20, took to the track for the first time on Monday at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel. The track debut of the team’s 2005 challenger marks the start of an intensive five-day test session, with Juan Pablo Montoya joining later this week.

“A lot of time, effort and work has been invested in the new car, with the engineers working more for us than ever before,” said Kimi. “My first impression after these few laps is a good one, however, the work for me and my driver colleagues starts only now.”

“Since MP4-20 was fired up for the first time at 02:30am on the morning of Thursday 20th January at the McLaren Technology Centre, the anticipatory atmosphere of the car’s initial run within the team has been building and we are pleased to have completed its shakedown this morning,” said McLaren team principal Ron Dennis.

“Today’s unveiling is the first tangible demonstration of the team’s preparations for the 2005 season, a year that has the potential to be exciting and positive for all the teams, our Partners and the fans alike. There is feverish work taking place across the team to achieve the best possible result for the this year”

The design of the MP4-20 has been heavily influenced by significant revisions to both the sporting and technical regulations that govern Formula One racing in four key areas: engine lifespan, limitations on tyre use, aerodynamics and race weekend format particularly for qualifying.

“A Formula One car is a fully integrated machine,” commented Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s Formula One CEO. “As a consequence, regulation changes to the extent we have seen ahead of the 2005 season, have had a major impact on the configuration of the entire package. The revisions created an interesting challenge for our design team under Adrian Newey, Mike Coughlan and Neil Oatley, and the result is a car that looks quite different from last year. Mercedes-Ilmor on the engine side has to cope with similar technical and timescale challenges.”

The aerodynamic modifications have led to the most visible differences on the car, to the design of the chassis, which has been exclusively developed in the design office and wind tunnel facilities at the McLaren Technology Centre. These include the raising of the front wing by 50mm, restricting the height of the diffuser to 125mm and bringing the rear wing package forward by 150mm.

McLaren’s technical director Adrian Newey added, “With the regulations, particularly on the aerodynamic side, being set comparatively late resulting in even harder and more dedicated work from all members of the team to get MP4-20 on track today. This has seen positive collaboration with all our Technology Partners, particularly Michelin in adapting to the extended use requirements of tyres for the coming season, when they have to last the entire race distance. The spec for MP4-20 was set in May 2004 and this saw the start of wind tunnel work at the McLaren Technology Centre. The timescales have been challenging but that is all part of the excitement of Formula One.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said: "Formula One of generation 2005 creates a host of new challenges for all the engineers involved, as well as bigger cuts and restrictions overall than ever before during the last decade. The engine’s lifespan is doubled due to a change in the regulations, which allows the engines to be replaced only after two races. This modification was announced extremely late, putting even bigger strain on the engine people. Additional strain was caused by the demand that performance be maintained despite the doubling of the lifespan. The new rules concerning the aerodynamic limitations and the use of only one set of tyres per race are no less challenging; it was therefore an interesting and busy winter not only for our engine technicians but also for the team's chassis engineers. With the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 we hope to have created a powerful package of chassis, engine and tyres, which will enable us to resume the performance and results which our team scored in the second half of the year and particularly in the final third of the season with last year's MP4-19B."

“Of course, everyone within our organisation was looking forward to the initial laps and results of the MP4-20 on the first test day,” Whitmarsh continued. “The focus in these early stages will be systems, aero and component evaluations before we start looking at more comprehensive programmes towards the end of the week. We have an intensive schedule to complete before the cars leave for Australia on Wednesday 23rd February, which will see us test at Valencia, Jerez and back to Barcelona. By the second week in February at Jerez, we will have the second MP4-20 chassis in attendance, with the third due to come on line in the following week.”

Pedro de la Rosa will test alongside Raikkonen on Monday in the MP4-19B, evaluating components and systems alongside the programme for the 2005 car, sharing driving duties during the week with Alexander Wurz. Raikkonen will continue to drive MP4-20 until Thursday, when Montoya will take the wheel.