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People power - McLaren reveal MP4-26 with Berlin's help 04 Feb 2011

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with the new MP4-26. McLaren MP4-26 Launch, Kaisersaal, Berlin, Germany, 4 February 2011. The new McLaren MP4-26.
McLaren MP4-26 Launch, Kaisersaal, Berlin, Germany, 4 February 2011 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with the new MP4-26.
McLaren MP4-26 Launch, Kaisersaal, Berlin, Germany, 4 February 2011 (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with the new MP4-26.
McLaren MP4-26 Launch, Kaisersaal, Berlin, Germany, 4 February 2011 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with the new MP4-26.
McLaren MP4-26 Launch, Kaisersaal, Berlin, Germany, 4 February 2011

Bit by bit, part by part, McLaren unveiled their 2011 car on the streets of Berlin on Friday. Aided by title sponsors Vodafone, and members of the public carrying components through the streets, the British team assembled the brand-new MP4-26 in the famous Potsdamer Platz in the heart of the German capital.

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button joined proceedings as the car gradually took shape before an ever-growing crowd of enthusiastic onlookers. For both men it was their first sight of the finished machine.

"We've seen it in the wind tunnel quite a lot, but it looks even better full-size," said Hamilton. “It’s great to see how many fans braved the Berlin weather to come to the event. I hope it’s been an exciting day for everyone. I think people saw a unique way of revealing our 2010 car, something that’s never been done before. I hope the car proves just as innovative once we take to the track.

“I head into 2011 in a relaxed but determined frame of mind. I’ve spared nothing during my winter fitness preparations and, in many ways, I feel as fit, focused and refreshed as I did ahead of my first season in Formula One in 2007. So my aim for this year is to ensure that everything comes together in the best possible way and that, like last year, I’m able to fight for the title right down to the final race.”

Team mate Button wass equally excited after his first glimpse of his new charge: “Today really marks the beginning of our 2011 season after what seems a very long time away from the track,” he said. “It’s been a really exciting event for all the fans who attended, and now I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of MP4-26 for the first time next week.

“It’s strange to think that this is only the start of my second season at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, because I’ve felt so comfortable since joining the team last January. Even so, I’d still consider 2010 something of a building year, albeit, with two victories, a pretty solid one! For the new season, I’ve not only got a year’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes experience under my belt, but I’ve also been able to offer input into the design and development of the new car - something that I was naturally unable to do last year. Now I really feel I know how Vodafone McLaren Mercedes goes racing, and I’ll be driving a car that’s been fully developed around Lewis and myself - that’s a very empowering feeling.”

The new car boasts a range of aerodynamic features designed to take advantage of new rules that significantly limit the amount of downforce that can be derived from the car’s underbody. It features distinctive U-shaped sidepods - to feed air more efficiently to the car’s rear end - and an electronically adjustable rear-wing system, introduced for 2011 to increase the potential for overtaking.

Beneath its skin, the car houses an all-new electric hybrid KERS system. McLaren, with engine partners Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, were the first Formula One team to win a Grand Prix using a hybrid device in 2009, and this new system is expected to further refine that race-winning package.

“I think today’s innovative launch demonstrates the enthusiasm within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to engage the general public; to show them that our sport is intense and exciting, and that we’re very keen to showcase Formula One to the wider world,” said team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “The MP4-26 is the result of an incredible amount of hard work, innovative thinking and dynamic teamwork.

“Under the leadership of (technical director) Paddy Lowe, (engineering director) Tim Goss and (director of design and development programmes) Neil Oatley, our design department is more integrated than ever: in fact, I’m particularly proud of the contributions made by our project engineers, many of whom have taken on leadership roles for the very first time and who had worked so well together to create this very striking and individual-looking car.”

After their near miss in 2010, McLaren hope the Mercedes-powered car will see the team take their first constructors’ championship since 1998 and first drivers’ title since Hamilton’s success in 2008.The team finished last season second overall, behind rivals Red Bull, with 454 points and five victories to Red Bull’s 498 points and nine wins.

Following Friday’s launch, McLaren tester Gary Paffett will shakedown the car during a private session at Spain's Idiada Proving Ground on February 8 before the team begin track testing at the Spanish circuit of Jerez on February 10.

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