McLaren unveil the MP4-27 01 Feb 2012
McLaren became the first front-running team to reveal their 2012 challenger on Wednesday, as the wraps came off the new MP4-27 at the teams UK factory in Woking. With it, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton hope to land McLaren their first constructors crown since 1998.
Unlike the 2012 Caterham launched last week, McLaren have avoided a stepped-nose design by making the whole front end of the chassis lower. This is a beautiful car, commented Button. Many of them that you will see will not be!
While the car closely resembles last years MP4-26, its chassis has been substantially revised from the ground-up, with all major systems updated or re-designed for the new season. The most evident visual differences include more tightly-waisted rear bodywork, developed to improve flow to the rear of the car, and a revised cooling system, which re-directs the gearbox oil-cooler.
Last years U-shaped sidepods have also been redesigned - a legacy of the FIAs new exhaust regulations that redefine the shape of the rear bodywork - while among the more minor details, the rear view mirrors are also new, something which Hamilton joked should be helpful following his much-talked-about run-ins with Ferraris Felipe Massa last season.
Ive been keenly following the development of MP4-27 over the winter and Ive been really encouraged by the results and the data that the engineers have been showing me, said Hamilton. I think we already had a very strong base to build upon: Jenson and I won six races with MP4-26 last year and I think weve been able to retain all the strengths and the reliability of that design while also incorporating lots of improvements and new ideas into the new car.
Of course, the biggest changes for 2012 are the modifications to the exhaust regulations - that will reduce the downforce and grip that we had last year, but it just puts the emphasis on the designers to try and claw some of that back in other areas. I get the feeling the MP4-27 is going to feel very new and exciting when we get to drive it for the first time.
Following a one-day private shakedown, it is Button who will get the first taste of the new car when he begins track testing of the MP4-27 at Spains Circuito de Jerez next Tuesday, February 7.
I know that the whole team is extremely proud of the MP4-27, said Button. It may look like a direct evolution of last years car, but weve analysed every area of performance over the winter and the whole car has benefited from lots of fresh thinking and new ideas in every area. Im really looking forward to getting behind the wheel in Spain next week.
With the regulations remaining relatively stable, weve really been able to focus on the detail with this years car. I still think we had a very fast package last year - it was very strong in certain areas - and our race pace was almost always fantastic, but were hoping for a further step forwards in 2012. With Mercedes-Benz, I think we also had the best overall engine and KERS Hybrid package in the pit lane.
We were also able to continuously develop throughout the year to match Red Bull - and that shows that we have the knowledge, effort and resources to sustain our efforts across the course of a whole season, which can be crucial. I know that everyone will be watching us very closely to see what progress we make during the pre-season tests, but I genuinely believe we have every reason to feel optimistic about the progress weve made and our competitiveness this year.
On McLarens and the MP4-27s prospects for the coming championship campaign, team principal Martin Whitmarsh commented: The 2012 season will be an important one for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: having finished second in the constructors championship for the past two seasons, were determined to mount a sustained, hard challenge for both world titles.
We have a fantastically committed team of individuals, and MP4-27 is the fruit of their labours - its a beautiful car, and one we feel is the perfect platform from which to launch our assault on the world championship. While there are clear visual changes to this years car, theres greater change beneath the skin, with lots of fresh thinking applied to every major system. The car is pleasingly complete.
For 2012, we are well aware that Red Bull remains a very powerful and capable operation, and that both Ferrari and Mercedes AMG are ramping up their operational capacity. We have no room to be complacent - what you see today only scratches the surface of what were planning to deliver to the track both from an engineering and operational point of view throughout 2012.
Im pleased and confident that weve left no stone unturned in our quest for performance. Now, our focus invariably turns to the track as we evaluate MP4-27 ahead of the start of the 2012 season in Melbourne on March 18. These will be a fascinating three weeks.
McLarens biggest 2011 rivals, Ferrari and Red Bull, will launch their cars on February 3 and 6 respectively.
For tickets and travel to 2012 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.