Posted on January 17, 2009
More from behind the scenes at McLaren | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

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.

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More from behind the scenes at McLaren
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  1.   1. Posted By: NumberTwo
        Date: January 18th, 2009 @ 9:21 am 

    good atricle, i think that they might use levers for front wing adjustment behind the steering wheel too, mclaren for instance has 6 levers atm, 2 for engine maps, 2 for gears and 2 for clutch. they could use clutch levers for adjustment of front wing, as you need clutch only when starting…

    btw. i think they had number 1 on their car in 2007, as alonso was a champ in 2006 so he had number 1 at mclaren. they also had number 1 in 2000, with mika as 1999 champ. had to say it :P


  2.   2. Posted By: speedmerchants
        Date: January 18th, 2009 @ 11:29 am 

    JA writes: Good point, number two, Alonso’s McLaren was number one, as you say. Thanks for that. J


  3.   3. Posted By: Ian Abrahams
        Date: January 18th, 2009 @ 4:57 pm 

    Be interesting to read who you think are the drivers who will benefit from, or respond best to, the new demands from the 2009 cars that you allude to in the opening bit of this posting, James?


  4.   4. Posted By: Essential Reading for January 17th, 2009 | F1 Minute : Bytesize Formula 1 News
        Date: January 18th, 2009 @ 6:00 pm 

    [...] More from behind the scenes at McLaren – McLaren was finishing its fifth and final 2009 chassis when we were there, which is pretty impressive. Interestingly the one they put in for the crash test, is going to be used for testing and racing. It will be in Portugal next week, despite having been smashed into from all angles by the FIA’s crash test devices! I always thought you just chucked the crash test tub in the bin, but apparently not. [...]

  5.   5. Posted By: Lee Grant
        Date: January 20th, 2009 @ 9:41 am 

    KERS will be an interesting addition but I really hope that the ones of us sat at home may have an indication as to how much ‘boost’ has been used/is still available etc.

    I’m sure it will add to the excitement to know that as we enter the last few laps of a race that the guy in front is out of boost but the guy behind has three seconds available and is closing the gap rapidly.

    Just a thought…


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