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McLaren: MP4-24 now a sound platform for 2010 car 26 Aug 2009

Jonathan Neale (GBR) McLaren Managing Director 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 19 October 2007 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 McLaren MP4/24s of Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia Spain, Saturday, 22 August 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Race, Valencia Spain, Sunday, 23 August 2009

The dramatic turnaround in McLaren’s performances over the past few races has impressed even the most hardened of pit-lane observers. From starting the season over two seconds off the pace, to winning in Hungary and taking a dominant one-two during qualifying at the most recent race in Valencia, the British team’s recovery has been remarkable.

Back in March it had been very different, with many writing off the MP4-24 as a disaster. But McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale believes that the car’s change in fortune, from back of the grid to race wins demonstrates that its design was never wholly defective. And that thanks to the team’s sustained development work back at the factory, its true pace has gradually been revealed.

“It is testament to a huge amount of hard work, but it’s also evidence of what I said at the beginning of the season - that we hadn’t done anything fundamentally wrong with the car, we just hadn’t done enough,” Neale explained during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 'Phone-In' session. “We had underdeveloped the aerodynamic package.”

But while they have made great strides through the field, Neale is determined that the team don’t become complacent, after their run of improving results. Instead he is confident the entire team will remain committed to honing the chassis, so they can carry on challenging their rivals and return to the footing they held last season, when driver Lewis Hamilton took the title.

“If I compare where other team’s chassis are, then it’s clear at the moment that whilst we have a competitive package, I don't think we have the benchmark chassis and aerodynamic performance,” said Neale. “Therefore we will not be sitting back resting on our laurels. We will be working to recover that, with this year’s car and going into next year.”

For Neale, this continued development is important not just for their final placing in the 2009 standings, but also as they look ahead to next year. With the regulation changes for 2010 much less radical than they were for ‘09, the design of next season’s McLaren will be an evolution of the MP4-24, not a completely new creation.

“The regulations are evolutionary rather than revolutionary,” he concluded. “The fundamental aerodynamics of next year’s package are the same. The big changes will be in the weight of the car because we’ll have to carry the fuel that we need for the whole race. We’re going to go back round the loop on vehicle dynamics because the front tyre will be changing, and therefore the weight distribution and the forces will have to be managed separately.

“But the essence of the aerodynamic form will be based upon proven technology and so it’s an extension of the stable platform that we have. If we were still scrabbling around at the back of the grid, with a car that was uncompetitive, whilst we’re going through the release of the car for next year, I’d be much more concerned than I am now.”