McLaren: Weve taken an ambitious approach to new car 31 Jan 2013
McLarens managing director Jonathan Neale says the team have taken an ambitious approach to their new car, the MP4-28. Speaking at the unveiling of McLarens 2013 challenger at the squads 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, youve 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 youve got to split your resources somewhere? On this occasion weve 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 couldnt have done this (years) front end on last years car and we couldnt have done this particular treatment on last years 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 Neales 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 were 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 its 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 weve won 182 races - more in that period than any other team - and weve won 20 world championships, but certainly recently we havent 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 weve got reliability, and looking at our processes in terms of how we run ourselves as a race team.
Its very clear nowadays, particularly when youve got relatively stable regulations, that its very unforgiving if you dont 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 didnt. Weve worked very hard on that this winter and were 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.
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