Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

McLaren: We've taken an ambitious approach to new car 31 Jan 2013

Jonathan Neale (GBR) McLaren Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 McLaren MP4-28. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. McLaren MP4-28 front suspension detail. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. McLaren MP4-28 rear wing and rear suspension detail. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer and Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren with the new McLaren MP4-28. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013.

McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale says the team have taken an ‘ambitious’ approach to their new car, the MP4-28. Speaking at the unveiling of McLaren’s 2013 challenger at the squad’s headquarters in Woking, UK, Neale said that the team will benefit from a less conservative strategy.

“In order to fight for wins and to fight for the championship you have to develop throughout the year and go deep into the season,” he said. “The hard part is then looking at the regulations when there are relatively small evolutionary changes, you’ve got to decide do you play conservatively and take your car and just keep going on developing it, or do you do something more ambitious and then recognise that you’ve got to split your resources somewhere? On this occasion we’ve chosen to be a bit more ambitious."

Among the most obvious differences between the MP4-28 and its predecessor is its higher nose, which is in fact stepped but covered with the ‘vanity panel’ allowed by the 2013 regulations. The team have followed Ferrari's 2012 lead in using pull-rod front suspension, providing a lower centre of gravity, while at the rear the driveshaft and lower wishbone have been packaged in one element.

“Looking at the car, we couldn’t have done this (year’s) front end on last year’s car and we couldn’t have done this particular treatment on last year’s rear end," added Neale. "So we knew there was going to be some risk and some effort in there, but we believe that rather than running out of gas by the middle of the season, this opens up much greater development potential.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh echoed Neale’s sentiments, saying that although they finished 2012 with “undoubtedly the quickest car”, the new approach was already yielding positive results.

“In changing things you inevitably step back, but this car is already quicker than the car we finished last year with,” he said. “At the moment we’re in a very encouraging development stage. In all that we are looking at - downforce and other parameters that affect performance - this car is responding very well. The engineers had a detailed technical review yesterday and you cannot help coming out of it thinking we have a competitive car.

“Of course, our competitors are off the radar screen and you cannot rule out them having a Eureka moment, but it’s less likely because of the current regulations and because the cars are so well developed. But we are pleased with where we are today and this car will look different before we get to Barcelona and different again before we get to Australia as we continue to put performance on it.”

McLaren started 2012 well, with Jenson Button winning in Australia. They would go on to win a further six races throughout the season, but inconsistency would ultimately cost them in the title race with the team eventually finishing third in the constructors’ standings. Whitmarsh is determined to ensure the team avoid the same pitfalls with the MP4-28 in 2013.

“Since 1966 when we started in Formula One we’ve won 182 races - more in that period than any other team - and we’ve won 20 world championships, but certainly recently we haven’t won nearly enough,” he said. “Going into this year the team have been very mindful. There has been tremendous effort on the processes in the design department, making sure we’ve got reliability, and looking at our processes in terms of how we run ourselves as a race team.

“It’s very clear nowadays, particularly when you’ve got relatively stable regulations, that it’s very unforgiving if you don’t score points - you can quickly slip behind. Fernando (Alonso) and Ferrari probably never had the quickest car last year, but they were in contention all season - they maximised the points out of the product they had and we didn’t. We’ve worked very hard on that this winter and we’re seriously intent on putting that right.”

Jenson Button will give the MP4-28 its track debut at Jerez in Spain next Tuesday. He and new team mate Sergio Perez will split pre-season testing duties evenly, with each getting six days’ running.

For details of other 2013 car launches, click here.

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.