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The future's bright the future's..McLaren F1 unveil new look on road to recovery

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The future's bright the future's..McLaren F1 unveil new look on road to recovery
Feb 24, 2017, 11:15 AM

McLaren launched its new car the MCL32 today at a futuristic ceremony in their headquarters in Woking.

McLaren launched its new car the MCL32 today at a futuristic ceremony in their headquarters in Woking.

The obvious talking point is the return of orange into the colour scheme, but this is a smokescreen for some very interesting aerodynamic developments, which the team hopes will propel it forward this season towards the front runners.

McLaren were one of the busiest teams last season on development of the floor, for example, with dozens of iterations through the season, which is very expensive and it was painstaking work. The floor is a critical area of the new 2017 cars, especially in the area around the diffuser ramp and so McLaren are in good shape in that.

"It's awesome," said McLaren executive director Zak Brown. "It's a beautiful piece of art. It wasn't me (who chose orange). And there was a lot of input from the fans who wanted orange.

"It is the start of a new era. Everyone in the workforce is involved and excited.There is a real sense of engagement.There is a new buzz.

"My challenge is the same as everyone elses," he added. "To get a faster race car to get back to winning. We've been given everything we need to get back to winning ways. We are going to get there, the team is highly frustrated that we are not winning races. Last year wasn't a great year by McLaren standards and what we need for 2017 is more progress."

McLaren's drivers are Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, the 24 year old finally getting his chance after years of waiting patiently. He performed very strongly in his one chance last season, scoring McLaren's first points of 2016 in Bahrain as a stand in for Alonso who was injured in Australia.

Alonso was pleased with the new car and said that he felt that the new 2017 regulations come at the right time for the sport

"We have high hopes that McLaren will come back to where we belong. We don't promise anything to our fans or to ourselves. We are here because we believe we can win."

"It's one of the most beautiful cars I have driven in my career, with the wider tyres," said Alonso. "With the other cars I've seen on the internet this week, I'd pick this one for the aesthetics. I'm really excited. nice to see some McLaren colour With the new regulations the cars look spectacular. They become sexy then they are fast."

"There is nothing I need to see from the team. I see maximum commitment and maximum work. We have a very strong team but we have to be realistic about the last two seasons and how difficult they were.

"We were 1.5 seconds off the pace in Abu Dhabi. Winning in F1 when you finish sixth in the previous year's championship is almost impossible, only Brawn GP in 2009 did it.

"From the sport I expect changes, in terms of how exciting these cars are to drive. How we manage the tyres, the fuel, the state of charge, all these difficulties of the last few years which has lowered the racing spirit, we were not free to push as much as we wanted to. I hope these new regulations bring back the racing spirit.

"I start this season with maximum commitment. I have new motivation, a new challenge in front of me. I think I can find something extra compared to the rookies. I'm hungry.

"I will see (what happens after 2017) I will answer that after the summer break," he added. "Until September I will not think too much about the future.

"I want to be world champion. It's what I'm training for and what I'm travelling to Australia for on the Friday before the event, so I'm 100% committed to win and if I can win this year it's better than next year."

Asked about moving to Mercedes in 2018, Alonso said that we have to wait and see what is the front running team. He confirmed that he spoke to Mercedes in the days after Nico Rosberg's retirement. He said that McLaren and Ferrari are the two most prestigious teams in F1.

A lot hinges on the performance of the Honda engine. It has a lower centre of gravity and new architecture and internals which amounts to an almost completely new engine, with some lessons taken from the Mercedes. It is going to be playing catch up with the Mercedes and also with the Renault as well, which is believed to have gained around 40kW from 2016 to 2017.

Honda's boss Hasegawa said that the new unit was 'very similar' in layout to the split compressor and turbo layout of the Mercedes. "We need to be realistic, we are not making promises but we are aiming to close the gap," he said. He admitted that the new engine has not reached the level that they believe Mercedes were at at the end of last season. He added that he believes Honda will be close to Mercedes' 2016 performance at the start of the season.

"We changed the philosophy of the engine, which is risky, but we had to do it because the engine of the last two years wasn't good enough," said Alonso.

The rear of the car (below) looks like the designers have pushed even more aggressively to pull it all in tight at the back of the coke bottle and above the diffuser ramp. Another interesting note is the vane arrangement at the outboard ends of the diffuser linking the rear brake duct and the rear wing endplate. Normally these type of vanes are attached to the brake duct but this example is more rearward.

Overall though the Mclaren looks like another more evolutionary approach to the new regulations in comparison to the Ferrari which is quite a dramatic departure and the Mercedes which has a highly curated look.

The McLaren and the Ferrari have the shark fin treatment which has had mixed reviews from fans and insiders. They add only a very small amount of downforce, but tend to improve some cross-wind characteristics and can clean some airflows to the rear wing. If Liberty Media and the FIA decided to ban them on aesthetic grounds, then they are not an item that engineers would cling on to doggedly.

Aerodynamics are going to be crucial and with the details McLaren has been working on for some time, the pieces are in place for McLaren to be the most improved of 2017. But the competition for that title will be intense this year, Renault being another candidate.

One disadvantage is that McLaren hasn't done any running on the 2017 Pirelli tyres, unlike Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, which were tasked with the development. The signs are that there is less degradation with the new wider tyres and that this will lead to one pit stop fewer per race, meaning there could be a number of one stop races. Against that, the warm up of the tyres is slow, so there is quite a lot to understand in terms of making the most of the tyres and the race strategies.

What do you think of the new McLaren car? Leave your comment below
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