The Ron Dennis story has dominated coverage of the McLaren launch, which is probably just as well because Lewis Hamilton wasn’t on great form, suffering with a heavy cold. He looked pretty proud to see the number one on the car, however, the first time for McLaren in a decade.
Nevertheless, we had a good chance over the course of a long day in Woking, to go behind the scenes and find out more about this new car and about how it will be raced this year.
The first thing that struck me was how much more there is for a driver to do this season and for that reason, it is clear that the driver will play a more important role than for ages. I think that this season, intelligent, mechanically savvy drivers will have a huge benefit from making best use of the controls, levers and switches on the steering wheel. The drivers have had control of the clutch, gears, brake balance, differential setting, engine maps, pit lane speed limiter and so on for a while, but two new controls he will have are the adjustable front wing, which can move up or down by 6 degrees, and of course from the KERS boost button. That’s a lot of different things to deal with in addition to steering, braking and accelerating. The test drivers who’ve had a run on the new slick tyres are reporting that they have a very narrow operating window for racing, so keeping them in good shape and getting performance out of them isn’t going to be easy, another area where having spare mental capacity above what’s needed simply to drive the car, will be important.