After all the hype about the McLaren MP4-18, the car never made it into competition in 2003 and has already made way for the MP4-19, which made its track debut at Valencia last week. The new car has some new parts and some components of the 18,...
After all the hype about the McLaren MP4-18, the car never made it into competition in 2003 and has already made way for the MP4-19, which made its track debut at Valencia last week. The new car has some new parts and some components of the 18, and already seems competitive; on the third day of testing at Valencia David Coulthard clocked the best time and broke the lap record into the bargain. Conclusions can't be drawn from winter test times but the 19 looks set to hit the track at Melbourne in March.
"Many parts of the car have been completely redesigned, and there are also some carryovers from the MP4-18 to the MP4-19, which will be further updated before we get to the first race of the new season. In addition, the engine has been revised in line with the new regulations."
While the fans never got to see the 18 fight it out in races, the drivers spent some time on the test track with it. Coulthard commented on the differences between the 18 and the new car, as well as the 17D used in competition this season.
"The MP4-19 has a more reclined driving position than we have in the MP4-17D," the Scot explained. "I am using the same seat at the moment that I had in the 18, but the position is slightly different in the chassis, as it is of course a different chassis. It is a little tighter in the footwell in the MP4-19 as the designers are trying to maximise the legality rules, so it gives them minimums where they are allowed."
"Another change is that there is no auto upshifts next year due to the rule changes, so you have to get used to getting back into the timing. I have always done manual down shifts anyway, so that is not going to change for me at all. Naturally though I have relied on the auto upshifts during the last couple of seasons because it is the most efficient way to get your gearshifts spot on. So that will create the odd time where a driver will make a mistake, hit a limiter and it may give another guy the opportunity to overtake, but that is racing."
The shakedown test of the 19 at Valencia was an evaluation of aerodynamics, components and systems and more comprehensive testing commences in December. "At this early stage, we are currently operating one MP4-19 chassis," said McLaren technical director Adrian Newey. "Consequently we will continue component evaluation with the MP4-17D alongside the new programme in this three week period."