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McLaren launch evolutionary new F1 challenger
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Feb 2012   |  2:11 pm GMT  |  162 comments

McLaren has finished the last two constructors’ world championships in second place, a point made today by team principal Martin Whitmarsh. His message was clear: 2012 has to be the year when they get one over on main rivals Red Bull and take back at least one of the world titles.

Today, McLaren launched their 2012 car at their headquarters in Woking with Lewis Hamilton praising its refinement and describing it as “the finest-looking car we have had for some time.”

The version unveiled today is not in the specification it will be seen in come the first race, it’s not even as it will appear in the February tests. It’s a good looking car, the designers have managed to avoid making it ugly at the front due to the new regulations on nose heights.

If this is the car that is to provide the stiffest challenge to Red Bull, then it’s quite a low key birth. McLaren trust in their ability to develop and they want to avoid the errors of last winter where the initial iteration of the car simply didn’t work.

That episode proved beyond doubt that you cannot draw any conclusions about competitiveness until the tests and even then it’s only the first two races that show you the pecking order.

The MP4-27 represents an evolution of the 2011 machine but the team have abandoned their U-shaped sidepods – in the interests of maximising the new exhaust positioning rules – and returned to a more conventional design.

It features a more tightly packaged rear end but there is no sign of the stepped-nose design, which appeared on the Caterham, as the whole front end of the chassis is lower.

There’s also a revised cooling system which re-directs the gearbox oil-cooler while the rear view mirrors are also new. “Felipe Massa will be happy with that,” joked Lewis Hamilton in reference to the duo’s numerous clashes with each other last year.

“The back of the car is much neater, it’s much tighter,” added Hamiton. “The focus was on getting it as tight as possible for aerodynamics.

“The biggest changes for 2012 are the modifications to the exhaust regulations – that will reduce the downforce and grip that we had last year, but it just puts the emphasis on the designers to try and claw some of that back in other areas.

“I get the feeling the MP4-27 is going to feel very new and exciting when we get to drive it for the first time.”

Button added: “This is a beautiful car. Many you see will not be. There are some good rule changes giving the engineers and aerodynamicists something to really think about.

“These guys have been flat out since we finished racing in 2011 on improving the car as much as they could in the simulator and I’m looking forward to getting out in it at Jerez.

“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.”


Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: “It looks beautiful at the moment but cars only really look beautiful when they win races. The goal is to win World Championships – that’s the goal every year.

“We are there or thereabouts. We don’t like losing. The last two years have had their frustrations. We are proud of the [six] victories we achieved but ultimately we want to win and win World Championships.”

McLaren, who have not won the constructors’ championship since 1998, have finished second behind Red Bull in the last two seasons and Button expects them to be the team’s main challengers once more.

“The Red Bulls will be strong,” added Button. “They are not suddenly going to build a bad car. They’re still going to be good competitors in 2012 but the important thing is we stay focused on what we’re doing. “

Hamilton added that he was confident the team had learnt from their mistakes last season which saw them struggle with reliability during the pre-season tests. And thus put them on the back foot at the start of the season.

“It’s always important to start off with a good foundation and I think we have that,” said Hamilton.

“The guys have learnt a lot form last year. The car is an evolution of the car we had last year which, if you remember, we were winning with towards the end of the year so that’s comforting.

“If we can start on a better foot this year, I think we’ll start this year with a lot more running which allows you to build upon there.

“We are the strongest team in terms of development so that should give us a strong position to start the season.”

Whitmarsh echoed those thoughts: “We had by anyone standards an abysmal winter testing session last year. We didn’t have reliability or pace.

“It was a tribute to a fantastic team that we were able to respond to that and arrive in Australia in reasonable shape.

“It was a relatively stressful process and I’d be much happier not to be fighting those kind of issues.”

Button will get the first taste of the new car when testing gets underway in Jerez next Tuesday.

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162 Comments
  1. Iwan says:

    Let’s hope for the love of the country and all things formula 1 that the McLaren will be on pace from the start of the season.

    I’m really hoping for at least a three team battle.

    1. Wayne says:

      I’ll drink to that!

  2. Al says:

    At least there will be one normal looking f1 car on the grid!
    I think it’s also a dummy exhaust.

    1. Michael S says:

      agreed, and dummy front nose… Macca is famous for not showing cards at launch

    2. Kevin Irwin says:

      I think a lot of that car is dummy, we are not seeing the final front wing methinks or the rear wing, the sidepod undercut is very tidy but I think McLaren may be pulling a fast one and keeping a few extra cards close to their chest

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        all the top teams launch with last years front and rear wings, its been industry practice for some years

      2. Liam in Sydney says:

        Only an idiot would show their cards at the car’s launch. You keep those things under wraps until testing comes.

  3. AuraF1 says:

    Looks like quite a traditional F1 car compared to recent years. Thank God they went with the clean, sloping nose – it may not be the most aerodynamic option but at least it means there will be one car that doesn’t make people vomit…

    If this is an evolution of last year though I fear it might just be the second place car again at the end of the year…

    1. Jack Randall says:

      How say you that it is the least aerodynamic option. It may well be the most aerodynamic option for that particular car. In fact i’m pretty confident of the fact McLaren know that is true.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        I said I didn’t know. Going off scarbs blog and the technical talk from engineers who mentioned that the b chassis needed to be as high as possible (hence the broken nose look to fit the A and B chassis regulations). As a mclaren fan I hope it is the most aerodynamic option to ignore that high chassis option – I’m just suggesting that I’m glad it’s pretty too!

    2. John says:

      What a ridiculous statement!

      have you ever noticed how the car that wins consistently is always considered beautiful?… no matter how ugly it was claimed to be before it proved its worth.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Ferrari 312T4 comes to mind…

      2. AuraF1 says:

        Sheesh, you’d think no-one had a sense of humour online! Relax – it was clearly a joke as explained above. Just glad its a pretty car after all the talk of the broken nose. Hey the mclaren had a nose job! **for clarity – this is also a joke and intended as a serious statement of mclaren support for the cosmetic surgery industry**

  4. Collin says:

    Might be the dummy launch car. This version definitely lacks innovation.

    1. newton says:

      you mean there are no visible novelties?
      I’m sure there’s plenty of innovation hidden inside.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        I think a lot of the cars are being released with last years wings etc to avoid giving too much away. Besides the cars were always going to be a slight evolution of 2011 and not a radical departure. But most cars that opt for radical departures don’t do as well. The RBR success has often been put down to a multi year evolution and refinement. But yeah I’m sure mclaren have a lot more tricks that aren’t visible on first glance.

      2. Martin says:

        I’d put the RBR success a bit differently. From 2006 Newey was able to build the design team as he wanted it to be, rather than what McLaren would let him do. This meant the team was well placed when the 2009 rule changes came along. Ross Brawn did exactly the same thing with Honda money. Honda did a slightly better job and Brawn won that year. For 2010, Red Bull did evolve the car from 2009 and probably understood the 2010 and 2011 rule changes better than most other teams. Without the 2009 changes, Ferrari and McLaren are more likely to still be out in front as they were further down the iterative development path.

        Red Bull is in the position that the rules are aligned with its 2009 car, pre the Silverstone double diffuser. Much of the work it has done since early 2009 will have been based on getting a more powerful diffuser to work as part of a package. I suspect the design process for 2012 would have been to use the 2009 performance as a baseline, but start with a new design based on lessons learnt applied in a lateral way. I understand the Pirelli tyres bring different balance requirements on corner exit to the Bridgestones, otherwise the car will oversteer.

        Cheers,

        Martin

  5. Luca says:

    it looks clean and simple on the surface although there are some interesting/different black shapes lurking at the front of the car under the nose and front of the skid plane… still as MW says, we wont really see the cars till Q1 oz

  6. mo kahn says:

    Mclaren always turned out good looking machines. Thank you Mclaren… for after the shock we fans suffered in the hands of Caterham your car reinforced the faith that F1 is a beautiful sport :)

  7. nathan says:

    1 word….beautiful

  8. Peter says:

    It was a logical thing to do to be evolutionary as they already had the best car at the end of 2011. This quote was on autosport.com yesterday, but interestingly had been removed quickly:

    “We’ve started way behind [Red Bull] in the last couple of years — that’s the really disappointing thing. But when we’re behind, you can see that historically we always catch up faster than anyone else.”
    “[Sebastian Vettel] must be a brilliant driver, because by the end of last season we definitely had the best car and he was still whupping us. We’re trying to figure out exactly what he’s doing that’s so good. How does he pull out that fast qualifying lap every time? We think it’s driver skill. There’s no trickery on the cars, he just gets more out of it than we do.” Geoff McGrath Managing Director

    Autosport 31 Januar 2012

    1. ChrisG says:

      That article also claimed Mclaren were in for a fight to prove the cars legality due to aggressive innovations that would be obviously visible when launched, which plainly isnt the case having seen the pictures today.

      In fact, I dont think Im alone in suspecting the entire article was based on a wind-up / fake quote that got published by Autosport before they checked the validity, then promptly withdrew it when they realised they’d been had. I’ve never noticed Geoff McGrath being quoted on Autosport etc before and being MD of McLaren Applied Technologies who’s main role is applying F1 technology to other areas of industry (such as building racing bikes for Mark Cavendish), he isnt even part of the race team and therefore unlikely to be privy to such information or be in a position to make what were fairly detrimental remarks about the drivers to the benefit of the opposition.

    2. Webbo says:

      McLaren thinking Vettel is a better driver than their pair of drivers? Very strange.

    3. Kevin Green says:

      Keeping in mind it does not bear well with the sponsors if they believe when they sign up they are sponsoring the best team. And when reality kicks in they actually are not! 2 reasons for Mclaren to come out with that statement firstly to defend/keep sponsorship deals keep in mind 3yrs in the hunt and 2yrs domination by redbull im sure our wealthy German motorsport enthusiast does not enjoy throwing all his pocket money into every form of motorsport just that much to to get X ammount back when now his team/brand is now strong enough to attract another major sponsor and bring more money into the team/s? And secondly to try And give there drivers a kick up the backside just to ensure the team is getting the best out of the drivers regardless to the cars actual comparable performance.

      1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Did you mean Austrian?

      2. kevin green says:

        same thing is it not? or certainly appears so!

  9. kevin green says:

    The car looks far too good guys that means Mclaren will be midpack this season! :)

    1. kevin green says:

      On a serious note it still looks f**king terrible as have all F1 cars of the last 10+ years easy but it certainly does not look as bad as i expected it would considering how vulgar the Caterham looks.

      1. AndyK says:

        I dunno.. The 2008 ferrari was about the best looking car ive ever seen I think

      2. Kevin Green says:

        Sorry for me it would have to be undoubtably be the Mclaren Mp4/4 and as far as best looking cars in general by era that was probably the pinacle (so far anyway) cant see F1 cars ever looking particularly attractive again unless they try to get away from aero tech (waste of money) and more into mech tech (much more relevant to the real world and road cars) would love to see the cars going back to more basic principles more so to make it more identifiable as to who are the better drivers i feel the aero stuff masks off so much of the interesting important factual stats in the sport, Its boring too!

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        I’m a Ferrari fan but the 2008 cars with all their little winglets, dear god, really??
        Since F1 went with the high nose, I don’t believe there’s been any great looking cars.
        To my mind, my favourite cars of all time would be Ferrari 312B, Ferrari 126C2, Mclaren MP4/4, Jordan 191 and the Senna Lotus’s from 1985 and 1985.
        The best of all in my opinion is the 1990 Ferrari 641 as driven by Prost and Mansell, stunning.
        I say lets go back to the low noses, apart from aesthetics, it would remove the constant issue of aerodnamics causing problems to the following car.

      4. JamesN says:

        The Ferrari’s from 2009 forward are at least as beautiful as anything from the early 2000′s. In fact, all the new rule cars look great (apart from the Caterham, naturally)

      5. Spinodontosaurus says:

        I must be one of he few people in the entire world who thinks that the old cars simply do not look good, although I like the the 1995 Ferrari, it is an exception and not the rule.
        The F2008 is the best car ive seen for years, and post 2009 cars look like lawnmowers…

      6. Kevin Green says:

        Your right there spino1 but the cares in the late 80′s looked fantastic!

      7. Van says:

        Agree with Kevin Green, the early 90s Ferraris were simply the most beautiful F1 machines ever produced. F1 cars from that era where generally sleek and well proportioned, even the mid-pack runners. The 1993/1994 Williams was also fine looking machines, and then we began to see the higher noses in 1995.

    2. Pyaare says:

      Were you thinking of MP4 21 the most beautiful but dud of car that McLaren fielded in 2006 when you wrote the comment?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KQcUkgOyPY

      I fully concur, that was most beautiful car and best car launch I ever saw

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Are you blind pyaare?? i could certainly see the appeal on braille values!!

      2. Pyaare says:

        If you have not correctly understood, MP421 the 2006 charger was most beautiful McLaren car, but was dud performance wise on the track.

        Your original post said “The car looks far too good guys that means Mclaren will be midpack this season!”

        So did I say anything different than you??

      3. kevin green says:

        Pyarre i was referring to your view’s of the MP421 being beautiful?? seriously ugly car!

  10. stringers says:

    Please, please please Mclaren get it right this year – if the top 3 (4?) are all out of the traps with less than 0.5 sec between them we’re in for a thrilling season. I agree with Lewis’s comments – often good looking cars ARE good – fingers crossed!

  11. AMSG says:

    So what was yesterdays story all about, with the team ready to legally defend it’s car design. Then the story was pulled from certain other main line F1 sites ????
    Dark forces at work

  12. Joel says:

    I’m glad the 2012 McLaren challenger looks awesome. At the same time, I have a feeling that this is a more conservative approach, although they deny it. I hate to hear them say that this year’s car is evolutionary. I feel that they have given up on trying to get back the lost downforce. This may be a fast car, but something inside my gut says this may not be a championship winner. I hope people with a more detailed eyes prove me wrong.
    Is it possible that they are hiding something from us that is completely radical?

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Joel,

      The key thing in recent years has been getting the length of the wheelbase right and then the airflow around the sidepods. This gets the floor of the car working correctly if the frong wing is doing its job correctly.

      Last year, longer was better (Mercedes got this wrong), but it may not apply this year without the exhaust blowing to control the airflow. In 2010 Ferrari canted the engine, raising the rear end of the engin to help the double diffuser.

      With the top surface of the car the best we can do is compare the shape of the sidepods as this defines to a large degree the centre of gravity, lower being better for transient handling characteristics, especially when full of fuel. Trying to say with the naked eye that one sidepod design gives better aero than another at this level is likely to be a fools game. The aero performance will dominate, so small is not always better and it tends to imply a long car, which doesn’t always help either.

      At this stage, I’d suggest trying not to worry about it now. If the McLaren is really slow in testing, especially on long runs then that is a bad sign, but I wouldn’t get too excited by quick times until Melbourne Saturday morning.

      Cheers,

      Martin

  13. Rodger says:

    Hope ‘good friend’ Hamilton enjoys racing it this year while he thinks of Sutil.

    1. Rick says:

      Sutil is paying the price for his own stupidity. He should not try to blame anyone else.

      1. Robert says:

        sutil even had the guts to call lewis a coward just because he was unavaliable!!

      2. bob says:

        The actual reason? Because he delivered a written statement in which he claimed he did not remember what happened very well.

        You go out with your bud, he gets into a fight, and them you don’t back him up in front of the law? That’s not being a friend.

      3. terryshep says:

        Did any of you consider the possibility that the evidence he might have given might have damaged his friend? Perhaps diplomatically not seeing the incident was the best service he could do ‘his bud.’

        Hamilton isn’t the one who got into a fight, why make him the villain?

      4. Pyaare says:

        Nothing new here aint it? to hit someone below the the belt when s/he is down and under…

      5. Baker1617 says:

        Very interesting comments here! Hamilton and McLaren would not want to be caught up in something like this, it reflects badly on the driver, team and sponsors.

        Formula One is a cut-throat business, Hamilton did not “hit someone below the belt” in any way! Sutil has been in Formula One long enough to know that controversy is pounced upon by the media and FIA. Hamilton had enough drama’s last year (on and off the track) and it is very selfish and immature of Sutil too attempt to drag Hamilton, McLaren and the sponsors into Sutil’s mistake.

        There was security camera footage of Sutil causing bodily harm to Eric Lux! How would Hamilton be helping Sutil in any way by making any comment?!

        Will be very interesting to see where Adrian Sutil is in five years time!

  14. Scott C says:

    What a relief after the Caterham abomination – a conventional looking car. Hopefully it will be quick enough to avoid a redesign!

  15. Pete says:

    looks fantastic; let’s hope it can compete with the Red Bulls. Meanwhile, there are rumors Mercedes are going to present their car late, because they have come up with a few great innovations , they do not want the others to copy with time at hand.

    Imagine having three competitive cars on the grid: we could be in for a juicy season.

    1. Jon says:

      Imagine 4 competitive teams, with 5 world champions fighting for the title. Will make for a great season.

      Lets hope Ferrari, Mclaren, Mercedes all are on the pace of the red bull.

  16. Darren says:

    Can’t wait to see the new McLaren on track..hopefully it’s fast n reliable enough to take the fight to the RBs and Ferraris this season. McLaren have always had the drivers but not the cars to deliver the titles

    1. Webbo says:

      In 2007 they had the car but the drivers gifted the title to Ferrari, remember Hungary 2007, Fernando?

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Remember the guilty Mclaren team being fined $100,000,000 and removed from the Constructors Championship for copying and using Ferrari secrets??
        Before you defend Mclaren, please remember, a few professionals have been quoted as saying that Mclaren were the only 2006 Michelin team to switch competitively to Bridgestone in 2007, it wasn’t luck, it was inside information.
        They knew what gases Ferrari used in Bridgestone tyres for best performance, they knew the secrets Ferrari had regarding how the brakes affected the tyre’s performance, and that was just the tip of the ice berg.
        780 pages would provide a huge amount of information to any F1 team.

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Correct me if im wrong, but I belive the 780 page dossier was handed over in mid April, about a month after the first race.

      3. adi says:

        I remember who instigated the affair by not obeying repeated requests from his boss to honour an agreement between the two drivers to alternate who leads the quali out lap (and therefore gets an extra fuel burn lap credited to his race fuel amount) I also remember Anthony and Lewis officially protesting the outcome of qualifying. Thus dragging the incident from a team affair to a Max and Bernie affair. Max hates Ron and Bernie was in love with Lewis so Alonso gets a 5 grid place penalty even though he broke no official F1A rule and McLaren lose all constructors points gained at that race. Remember that?

      4. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        That was one of FIA’s worst sanctions ever. Fernando whas only the victim. That cost him the WDC…

  17. david says:

    the 2008 car is still a better looking car.

  18. malli says:

    the car looks stunning with ultra compact body work.
    9.5/10
    thanks james.

  19. mark says:

    it doesn’t seem to be that extreme in pushing the bounderies of design, i hope they have more stuff to come, mind you this time last year redbull had a very boring looking design that many people thought wasn’t that interesting, the engineers didnt sound so confindent, they seemed not even confident about clawing back the downforce deficit left by the blown diffuser.. lets hope they have a few tricks up their sleeve they will really need it.

  20. Nuno says:

    James,

    I couldnt really see what exhaust solution do they introduce, is jus a conventinal (pre BD) one?
    Also regarding the nose, is this their final version or do you think they will have something completely different in Jerez?

    Thanks

  21. daphne says:

    How did they avoid the ugly stepped nose design?

    1. Foz says:

      the front of the chassis appears to be a lot lower than others

    2. K says:

      By not hiring Mike Gas as he always designed slow crappy ugly cars.

    3. iceman says:

      Their 2011 nose was the lowest in the field, and already very close to the new height limit.

  22. Norman says:

    It looks great. All the pictures show a blank at the rear. Hope this is the stand and there is a diffuser. Also hope there is much more competition this season. Can not wait.

  23. JimmiC says:

    Slightly off topic, but I read today that Adrian Sutil has had some choice words to say about Lewis Hamilton.

    1. daphne says:

      Saw that too. L.H. didn’t want to be tarred with the same brush. What did A.S. expect?

      1. adi says:

        Being ‘best mates’ and seeing that the incident happened with Hamilton present, while he and Sutil were celebrating Lewis’ Shanghai win, I would probably expect Lewis to do any of the following actions..(which ive scaled from best to least acts of friendship)
        a) attend court so at least Sutil doesnt look like a guilty glasser cos Lewis was there when it happened and is there supporting his friend in court.
        b) If he cant go to Germany to attend court then support his friend by calling him.
        c) saying something positive about Adrians character when asked by the press, as opposed to “no comment”
        d) send him a ‘good luck staying out of prison’ text
        e) ask his dad anthony if he texts Adrian to ‘say good luck with the trial from me’.
        f) twitter ‘Good luck Ado. Hope you dont get jail time. Wish i was there but busy with photo shoots and stuff.
        g) ask kimi to tell eric boullier to pass a message to Lux’s lawyers to pass on to Adrians lawyers to tell him ‘Lewis says hi”
        Any of those senarios is better than what Lewis did…………… NOTHING

    2. Webbo says:

      What exactly did he say?

      1. Brad says:

        Called Hamilton a coward…

      2. Chris says:

        Sutil said: “Lewis is a coward. I do not want to be friends with someone like that. He is for me no man.

        “Even his father sent me a text message and wished me luck for the process. Lewis came with nothing. He has changed his phone number. I could not reach him any more.”

        Sounds like sour grapes to me, Sutil glassed Lux and instead of owning up to his actions has looked to shift the blame and provide poor excuses. Following the incident instead of hanging around to face the music he promptly legged it from the club which sounds like the actions of a coward to me. Now he has lost his drive and is lucky to have avoided jail, he only has himself to blame, trying to drag Hamilton down with him is the last action of a desperate man.

      3. Baker1617 says:

        Couldn’t agree more!

      4. ChimpSafari says:

        Finally, a commenter with sense. Sutil committed a crime that Lewis probably remembers fairly well. He’s not going to grass on his friend in court plus he has contractual obligations to be at the launch so he sends a written statement to say he doesn’t remember since he doesn’t want to lie so obviously in court.

        Sounds like what most of us would do.

      5. Richard says:

        Sutil only has himself to blame, and it’s quite lightly that Lewis realised the best course of action on all fronts is avoid giving evidence because you cannot defend the indefensible, and so avoid giving daming evidence against his former friend. As it happens Lewis had legitimate reasons for not being there.

  24. Aaron says:

    The “27″ is a thing of beauty(as ususal with the Maccas), especially next to the Caterham. If the CT01 had been designed for the Jordan team, they would have painted crocodile eyes on the riser from the nose and big teeth down the side

    Ferrari have already admitted that their car is ugly, we wait to see what the Bulls come up with.

  25. Trey says:

    Interesting. A lot of the quotes seem like PR waffle to be honest, but I guess this event is more for Sponsors and Shareholders.

    Only real analysis i’ve seen s far is from Gary Anderson on the BBC:
    “This is a test car – as McLaren have been saying fairly loudly – and there will be developments coming along, but at the moment nothing stands out as a concept other teams would struggle to exploit. But McLaren have struggled early on in the last two seasons, so maybe they want to have a solid base to start from. Right now, though, there is nothing on this car that would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.”

  26. KGBVD says:

    For some reason it looks disappointing.

    I was expecting something flashier after last year’s U-sidepods, the Caterham’s nose this year, and the rumours of Ferrari’s external wing-shaped crash structures.

    This car looks incredibly conventional. And conventional cars haven’t been the fastest over the past few years — just ask Ferrari.

    1. Craig D says:

      I seem to recall people being disappointed with last year’s Red Bull, saying little had appeared to have changed.

      Yes, I was expecting something a little more radical with the McLaren but little can really be gleaned from the surface physicality regarding performance.

      If it turns out quick, commentators will quickly start talking about its elegant and sleek conservatism!

      My money’s still on Red Bull and Vettel anyway. The group’s too strong!

      1. KGBVD says:

        Excellent points.

        I suppose the surprise is that Macca went MORE conservative, which goes against the grain typical of teams trying to find that extra little bit (a team who may, for instance, come up with an F-duct).

        I do agree though, pretty care or not, the Vettel RB will be almost impossible to beat.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        The problem with any championship winning team is that they evolve the winning car, look at Mclaren in the 80′s and 90′s, Williams in the 1990′s and Ferrari between 2001 and 2004.
        They know the weaknesses in their car and evolve these and keep the main design similar.
        Mclaren and Ferrari have to find something which gives them an advantage over Red Bull before Red Bull change their design significantly.

        I remember the launch of the 2004 Ferrari and those of Mclaren with it’s needle nose and Williams with the walrus nose, everybody was disappointed with Ferrari’s conservatism.
        Yet Schumacher won 13 races and Ferrari 15 overall.
        It will be March 18th, when we see these cars running properly in anger.

  27. Rohit says:

    its nice to see the new car but looks pretty much the same…. one needs to go into the details to find its success relative to its predecessor

    hope mclaren can do well !

    good luck….

  28. ChrisJones says:

    First comment, first to say what everyone is thinking: Thank goodness it doesnt have a duck bill.

  29. Kishan says:

    As a life long mclaren fan the proof is in the pudding or testing in this case.

    It may look an evolution some would even say conservative but if everyone else has made a step change then it may see mclaren slip to 4th. I hope and I pray not but I was expecting a greater level of risk expressed with this year challenger.

    The relative conservativeness of this years design may have some thing to do with the issues experienced last winter where the risks regarding the exhaust design did not pay off and were ditched altogether.

    Caterhams car looks a light years ahead (as tony f) stated of where they were and rightly so with all the partners they have.

    HRT???? Starting to look like Hopeless Race Team. Who builds a car in Spain!!!!! He’s not Peter Sauber!!!!

    1. Jeff says:

      A step change, or a change to add a step?

      I hope that a beautiful car = a fast car, and conversely ugly = slow.

      I’m curious to see whether Newey follows the platypus nose trend of Ferrari, Force India and Caterham.

  30. Arnie S says:

    I can’t see the exhaust on the pics. It will be interesting with the new regulations to see how they do it.

    1. Foz says:

      two outlets either side just in front of the rear wheels

    2. KGBVD says:

      None of the exhaust configs on the launch cars will remain by Australia. Most teams by then will have telescoping exhausts to blow the gases over one of the planes of the rear wing.

      Maccas low config here is obviously a mock-up.

      1. Arnie S says:

        That’s what I thought. But as someone said before, most likely there’s a “hide and seek” until Jerez (at least)

  31. db4tim says:

    I hope we see no more step noses…butt ugly they are …this one is very good looking

  32. Seán Craddock says:

    “The Red Bulls will be strong,” added Button. “They are not suddenly going to build a bad car…”

    Well, McLaren were strong in 2008 and not many predicted they would suddenly build a bad car…there’s hope yet!

    1. Craig D says:

      There were massive reg changes from 08 to 09 though. I wouldn’t pin my hopes on a Red Bull weakling. But then I wouldn’t want that either. I want all the top teams to be up there battling it out; greater sense of achievement for the victors that way, and a more exciting journey to it for us watching!

      It’s time Rosberg won a race now too.

  33. goferet says:

    Hallelujah!!!

    Now that ladies and gentlemen is what they call a beauty. Seriously I was worried we were going to see all kinds of horrors after the Caterham horror show but well done to the Mclaren engineers for putting their heads together and coming out with this monster.

    It really looks stunning and shiny Oooo, no wonder the brave Mclaren pilots are all up beat and I have to give the Mclaren team as a whole credit this time for they have mainly maintained radio silence during this winter, heck even that radio Whitmarsh, has managed to keep his tongue tied majority of the time.

    Yes, why over hype a pre season only to disappoint the fans come race day, so good job Mclaren for leaving all the talking to Ferrari this time.

    P.s.

    Where are from, good things happen in 3s

    With Mclaren being the first top team to launch their 2012 challenger + With today being the first of the month = Lewis Hamilton will come out top of the pops.

    *Fun Fact*

    Whenever Lewis has had a car capable of fighting for the WDC, it has gone down to the wire so if this beast is good enough —> It’s all the way to Sao Paulo baby!

  34. Werewolf says:

    It certainly looks great. If it’s as fast, they should have a terrific year, especially if it suits Button’s style and Hamilton is consistently back to his best.

    Whilst I like the idea of different shapes, let’s hope there’s more like this than the Caterham!

  35. Chris G says:

    Very surprised, all the reports this morning where that the car was going to be radical with notable difference that would immediately get others protesting, after the chatterham nose, and Ferrari already stating who ugly their car, and recent McLarens I was expecting something truly ugly and outrageous, what we have instead is the nicest looking McLaren for ages and what appears to be nothing out of the normal

  36. K says:

    Looks boring and very conservative. I am sure under the bonnet it is different.

    For some reason the Gatorham looks more aggressive and faster, haha.

    1. Joe says:

      I think they have purposely left it bland so they can add lots of pieces during testing and i also agree with ‘K’ i’m sure there are already lots of unseen innovations that will make this car clip red bulls wings.

      Mclaren 1-2 in WDC (heard it here first)

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I’m still laughing….

      2. vanja says:

        Ferrari 1-4 in WDC (heard it hear first)

        Who is 1st is obvious

    2. K says:

      Hmm.. someone either seem to be copying me in using this “K” name or trying to be me? Never seen anyone else used “K” other than myself until now.

      1. K says:

        Or you are reading to many conspiracy theories? I just typed a random letter because without it, it won’t post.

  37. i do hope caterham have got it right … like brawn did …

    Matt

  38. Craig D says:

    Looks a lot nicer than I was expecting. My gut still feels that Red Bull will start with the quickest package again but hopefully the others will be right on there.

    I wonder if McLaren have opted to focus its design more towards light fuel, single lap pace for qualifying, and with a rear wing with a stronger drag reducing DRS effect as opposed to higher general downforce. They need to stop Vettel getting pole after pole and controlling the race. McLaren was on the money come race day but if you can’t pass Vettel (Spain and Monaco for instance), you’re not going to win.

    James, any comment on the brief Autosport story that appeared for a few hours whereby someone from McLaren was quoted as saying they had the best car last year but Vettel made the difference and was effectively better than Hamilton and Button?! Not hard to see why McLaren’s PR got that removed quick sharp!

    1. James Allen says:

      He didn’t say that. It has been denied

      1. Well says:

        That’s what the McLaren PR machine wants us to believe yes.

        I mean, Autosport is not going to make stuff like that up.

  39. Foz says:

    As nice as this one may be I still dont like the post 2008 snow plough front wings with the tiny rear wings.

    With DRS could the rules not allow the rear wings to be widened to create a bit of balance?

    Wishful thinking I guess.

  40. ttwan says:

    Hi James, do you think this car is just for show and they are hiding the ‘actual’ car? With early comments by Mclaren, I feel this is likely the case. Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think the monocoque will stay the same because it has to under FIA rules, the but the wings and top bodywork/ floor etc will change over the coming months.

      1. ttwan says:

        Thanks for your reply!

      2. Brisbane Bill says:

        So what is the purpose of these car “launches” if the car they show is not even the car that will hit the track at the first test? What are they really showing us and the media at these launches? It would appear to be just a way of getting publicity for the team and its sponsors and has no value in terms of launching the car. OK – so the monocoque will be the same due to the regulations on strength and crash testing but that is covered over and remains unseen. The wings, cowels and side pods are the visual finishing touches and these will be changed most likely pre-tests butmost definitely pre-races). This would just seem to be needless expense in preparing a car that has cosmetic components purely for a photo session.

      3. James Allen says:

        Well only very few teams still launch cars these days for that and for cost reasons.

        Ferrari have to, it’s part of the Italian cultural calendar (almost), McLaren see themselves in the same light so have to have a ‘show’.

      4. Richard says:

        I expect it is to some extent driven by their sponsors need for maximum exposure

  41. Mr G says:

    Mclaren has showed today a car that it will be very different in Malbourne.
    Nose will be similar to Caterham and Ferrari, side pods will be shaped forward and much more differences in the rear part fo the car, I can see a different rear wing all together.
    Ferrari will do a similar thing but with an ugly nose.
    My Italian connections are really concerned about this year McLaren, it could be a surprise for everyone.

    Let’s the battle commence !!!

  42. Jon Wilde says:

    The car we saw today is the MP4-27A. JB and others made that very clear. I fully expect a B C & D iteration either before or during the season.

    Looks very pretty as it is though!

    What happened to Aigo?

    1. Aaron says:

      you mean like the NCC1701?

  43. Michael S says:

    hmmm… I am wondering if we have not seen the real front nose yet…. I have seen Macca through the years show us one thing at kick-off and something else come testing

  44. marc says:

    Nice looking car as usual from McLaren but did anybody see the comment from sutil calling lh a coward and no longer regards him as a friend

  45. Richard says:

    Well McLaren always seem to produce good looking cars of late, but looks are as nothing in the race for performance. I hope it’s a good car, but it’s well to remember more refinement through testing will come before qualifying in Melbourne which is the only place where the truth will be revealed. Remember how deceptive the Ferrari was on test, however the Red Bull car is the one I want to see. Good Luck McLaren I hope you can win this year!

  46. Davexxx says:

    Glad they at least listened to Hamilton (complained on a BBC TV segment) and improved on the WING MIRRORS! ;-)

  47. tim says:

    Love McLaren for the development of the details. One can stare at things on a McLaren for hours that would be boring on another car. Perhaps it’s almost a fetish in their development that they need to make every inch shapely and innovative, but I for one appreciate it. I’ll be surprised if the Ferrari is this developed. Red Bull might be, but just less artistic and expensive looking.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Yes, Ferrari, winners of 15 driver championships and 16 constructor championships.

      Ferrari, a team that since Mclaren last won the Constructor Championship in 1998, has won 8 Constructor titles, actually matching Mclarens complete total of 8 Constructor Championships.

      I may well be biased in my support of Ferrari, but I wouldn’t dream of demeaning any other squad for their engineering and design ability. Not when they have proved successful.

      IMO, I don’t believe this is the Mclaren that will test and race this year, but I’m struggling to see anything that looks innovative on it.
      I have to agree with Gary Anderson, as quoted above,
      “Right now, though, there is nothing on this car that would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.”

      1. tim says:

        Merely observing that elements of McLarens are more shapely and developed looking than most other cars rather than making a comment on whether this car or the Ferrari are going to be fast—the Ferrari will doubtlessly be fast.

        My observation is that Ferrari tend to design their cars conservatively and develop them over the season, as opposed to this McLaren, which looks to have small details already quite developed. Neither is “better.” I just enjoy looking at McLaren’s eye for details, as I said in the original post.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Fair points, I probably mis-read your original posting, specifically “I’ll be surprised if the Ferrari is this developed.”

        Regarding Ferrari being conservative, I’d say in the last 2 or 3 years, I’d agree, when Aldo Costa has been the head there, I have to assume it has to do with being Italian at Ferrari with all the pressure that brings.

        Prior to that, you have Rory Byrne designing cars, which some of the detailing during teh Schumacher years was ground breaking and made everybody else suddenly pedestrian.
        Certainly the 2002 Ferrari caught every team out with how tightly packaged and how small the rear of the cars was.

        I expect a different philosophy now that Fry is heading up the design dept.

      3. makkaf1 says:

        and so say i…

      4. Bru72 says:

        Well said. And Ferrari usually have the best looking car on the grid. This year though, it seems reports say it is an ugly duckling.

      5. Richard says:

        Actually I dont’t agree. I think McLaren have for some time produced the best looking car on the grid, but it is helped enormously by their colour scheme. The all red Ferrari is OK but not breathtaking.

      6. Bru72 says:

        Really? I like this years McLaren but thought last years hideous.

  48. Rich C says:

    Proving once again that modern F1 cars are simply a big-ass wing with some other bits bolted on.

  49. Tormillo Amarillo says:

    Wow!

    With this look and inspiration, I want to buy a McLaren subcompact car right now!

    Is it legal that nose?

    After all, Sauber lost points for an illegal tale at the beginning last year.

  50. SJM says:

    The car looks good, but the big question will be IS IT THE ONE TO BEAT?

    Its obvious McLaren is sandbagging (e.g the postion of the exhausts look like they are still blowing the diffuser….hmmm)

    I’ll wait until testing starts, but I think the Red Bull had the most to loose from the new regs, I doubt Seb will be able to brake 30m later than his rivals this season.

  51. gonzeche says:

    “We are the strongest team in terms of development…”
    This is a good PR-statement maybe, but rather naive also… not having won the WCC since 1998! And somehow unsportmanlike also for it implicitly does deny RBR’s fair achievements for the last two seasons as a whole, doesn’t it?

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Good point. Mclaren had been 1.3 seconds off the pace last winter, slapped a new exhaust on for Australia and competed.
      Silverstone the blown exhausts were banned, and Mclaren were suddenly 1.3 seconds behind the Red Bulls.
      In 2010, Ferrari developed their initial car better than Mclaren did, to the point that by seasons end, Ferrari were a pit-stop away from the drivers championship.

      James, Is the resources agreement still in place or as Ferrari and Red Bull have withdrawn their membership, can they spend what they want?
      Has there been any progress on this front, or have any other teams withdrawn their entry too?

      1. James Allen says:

        The RRA is still in place yes. What’s got lost is the FOTA concept as far as the renegades are concerned (there are now 5 teams outside FOTA)

    2. StallionGP F1 says:

      “We are the strongest team in terms of development…”

      I have always seen it as a moronic statement.
      Simply put they start with a bad car and catch up mid-season negating the fact that the others built a good car from the start.

      1. Bru72 says:

        Good point, and probably why they haven’t won the constructors in 14 years.

  52. Darren says:

    Stunning :-)

  53. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – given your insight into the sport over the years, do you think anything has changed (eg designers, management, etc) that will give MacLaren the edge this year? Is it a case of them needing to take a chance in order to be able to beat RBR? Or will they perenially play a safe game and try to win the championship off the strength of their drivers rather than through the car?

    1. James Allen says:

      You have to have the car. Especially when there’s a driver of Vettel’s calibre in a front running car. You saw the result of that last season.

      Changes wise I see McLaren lost a few key aero people over the winter.

      But they wanted to emphasise “strength in depth” today.

      I think they will probably race a bit smarter this season, but the car has to have the pace, that’s the key

  54. JohnBt says:

    As long as there’s no hump like Caterham it does not look weird. Overall I like the look though.

  55. Bru72 says:

    Let’s see if it can get McLaren their first constructors title in 14 years.

    1. vanja says:

      Wouldn’t have anything against Mclaren WCC and Alonso’s WDC… Actually I would love to see it, because it would mean a great battle.

    2. James D says:

      Don’t worry I am sure there will be no threat of that happening, even if they score more points there will be some reason to exclude them from the standings.

      1. Bru72 says:

        Aye, let’s hope Macca perform a clean clean without controversy.

  56. tim says:

    James, any insight into how this nose is legal? Or better said, why the Caterham has such an extreme interpretation of the rules?

    The two cars look to be built to different regulations. If this nose is legal, why such an extreme and clearly less aerodynamically clean nose for the Caterham? What am I missing with my untrained eye?

    1. Nigel says:

      The whole nose section is lower than last season’s car, so they don’t need the platypus dip to conform with the 55cm height limit at the front of the nose.

  57. Andrew Kirk says:

    Seems like Mclaren are starting off safe this year building a car that is an evolution of last year’s car. A car that was only 2 or 3 tenths off where it needed to be but Mclaren could never find those tenths. Clearly they are wise to the fact that in recent years their slow start has cost them dearly in both title hunts. Meanwhile Ferrari after years of playing it safe are talking about going for gold and being more aggressive. Going to be great see which style works.

  58. Chris_NZ says:

    No real surprises here. Lets hope its fast. Im sure it’ll be reliable.
    Shame they used last years front and rear wings though.
    They appear to have lost some sponsors, Johnnie Walker, Aigo and is Hilton gone too?

    1. James Allen says:

      As far as I know all three are still sponsors of McLaren

  59. Macca says:

    I think McLaren have pulled something out of the bag here . Stunning looking car, fresh approach and two supremely talented drivers. I really do hope McLaren, Ferrari and possibly Mercedes AMG can challenge the Red Bulls this year. With this car I think maybe this might be a year for McLaren! But will have to wait and see.

    1. Chris says:

      Good looking car doesn’t equal world championship!!!

      1. Richard says:

        Yes that’s very true, and when one looks at the gaping “mouth” below the nose of the Ferrari makes me wonder if McLaren have found another way.

  60. Andy C says:

    Car looks good to me. I’m delighted it doesnt have the alain prost nose seen on the caterham.

    I’m reliably informed that the gismos are missing on the release car as they’re close to the wind on rules. A fake panel here, a last years front wing there. You get the picture

    I suspect we’ll see the full package only in test 3.

    I love some of the stay at home expert aero tips for McLaren above (wonder if they read this discussion ;0)

    Lets hope its a belter out of the box. Then we’ll see what Milton Keynes are like on the back foot.

  61. Chris says:

    Anyone remember when Mclaren always used to do their preseason testing with an orange car. Always loved that!! Google it and you’ll see what I mean!! That car is going to take some beating in the looks department. Lean and keen!!! F1 is not a beauty contest tho!!!

  62. Chris J says:

    Mclaren is the only car so far that looks like it hasn’t been built out of Lego bricks. The Ferrari is one ugly looking car along with all the others. Can’t see how a stepped nose is aerodynamic.

  63. Glennb says:

    I’m no McLaren fan but that nose is far nicer than anything else at the moment.

  64. Dmitry says:

    I’m late to the party, but let me say, it’s a beautiful car!

    And it heavily reminds me MP4-23… fingers crossed, it will bring the same (if not better) results!

  65. Jeremy Smith says:

    The McLaren MP4-27 is simply stunning…

    I hope it’s as fast as it looks…

  66. Van says:

    I hope it goes as well as it looks.

    McLaren need to deliver this year – no excuses. No WDC/WCC since 1998 is shocking for a team of their heritage.

  67. Adam says:

    Speaking of peculiar looking cars, does anyone remember the 1996 ferrari? It the had hexagonal Fighter Jet style sidepods. Didnt do them much good though. Only a couple of wins I suppose.

    Also glad to see that we dont see those wierd looking sharkfin engine covers (See the 2010 mclaren – ugly), though i dont understand why HRT had one last year where the teams didnt have it.

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