Nancy Knapp Schilke, F1 correspondent
McLaren team is ready for Jerez test with new car
Vodafone McLaren showcased the MP4-27 with their two FIA Formula One world champions, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, on hand for the presentation at the team's British-based McLaren Technology Centre. Building on their second place finish in the constructors’ title, the team believes they have a winning car with the changes they have made.
Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh commented on the team’s hopes for the new season: “The 2012 season will be an important one for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: having finished second in the constructors’ championship for the past two seasons, we’re determined to mount a sustained, hard challenge for both world titles.”
...it’s a beautiful car.
The chassis has undergone a lot of changes. Viewing the new car, the rear body work and the sidepods were part of the revision. Director of Engineering Tim Goss explained, “I think the most obvious change is the loss of the U-shaped sidepod, which we pioneered on last year’s car. We reverted to a more conventional sidepod shape for this season because the U-shape was less suited to the new exhaust geometry restrictions. For 2012, the exhaust tailpipes now have to exit along the U-channel – so that particular feature was no longer really viable due to the new geometry restrictions. As a result, we decided to adopt a different approach to the way we feed the rear of the car. We have cleaned up the roll-hoop area and now have much tighter rear bodywork.”
The new regulations which has lowered the nose on the Formula One cars this year has caused a stir among the media of being “ugly” and it is noticeable in the photos of the new MP4-27 but seems to blend in with the colors of the McLaren livery. While other designs have indicated there to be a "bump" in the nose the McLaren front end seems more fluid as the nose raises to meet the cockpit.
“We have a fantastically committed team of individuals, and MP4-27 is the fruit of their labours – it’s 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 year’s car, there’s greater change beneath the skin, with lots of fresh thinking applied to every major system. The car is pleasingly complete,” said Whitmarsh.
Button said, “With the regulations remaining relatively stable, we’ve really been able to focus on the detail with this year’s 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 we’re 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 pitlane.”
The 2009 champion Button ended second in the title fight last year and after signing a new multi-year contract with McLaren, he is ready to head to Jerez for the first Formula One pre-season test. The Briton’s confidence is on high note for the 2012 season.
“I know that the whole team is extremely proud of the MP4-27. It may look like a direct evolution of last year’s car, but we’ve 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. I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel in Spain next week,” said Button.
His British teammate Lewis Hamilton feels the same. The 2008 world champion commented, “I’ve been keenly following the development of MP4-27 over the winter and I’ve been really encouraged by the results and the data that the engineers have been showing me. 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 we’ve 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.”