McLaren revealed its MP4/29 2014 car online at noon today, with a handful of photos of the car shot in the boulevard at the technical centre in Woking but no accompanying soundtrack from the team about the upheaval that has taken place in the management.
With speculation rife that Eric Boullier, who quit Lotus this week, will be the new team principal at McLaren, the team did not go into any details.
Boullier served under former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh as deputy chairman of the F1 Teams’ Association and the Frenchman is hotly tipped to replace him in his day job, following the coup last week by former boss Ron Dennis.
Neither Whitmarsh nor Dennis is quoted in the team’s statement about the car today, only Managing director Jonathan Neale and Sporting Director Sam Michael as well as the drivers.
The new McLaren retains its silver colour scheme, which has been the default colour of McLarens since 1997. It has the striking low nose, or snout, as is the vogue this year with the new regulations.
The last time Turbo engines were in F1 in the late 1980s, McLaren dominated completely and it will be hoping that the new challenger the MP4/29 takes them back to the front of the grid after a spectacular fall from grace last season. The team failed to register a podium finish for the first time since 1980. Honda, the other half of that dominant 1980s partnership, is waiting in the wings to return next season. So despite the short-term upheaval this winter, the medium term looks positive for the team.
“We have responded to the disappointment of our 2013 season by pragmatically framing our approach to the technical challenge, ” said the team statement. “The new MP4-29, revealed today, is a sensible and calculated response to the new regulations.”
Jenson Button, starting his fifth season with the team, and rookie Kevin Magnussen will pilot the car this year, with Stoffel Vandoorne as reserve driver.
“We want to get back to the front, ” said Button. “We want to have a better season than we did in 2013, too. But it’s really difficult to accurately predict anything right now – these are such huge changes that they’ll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out.
“It’s part of the job of a Formula 1 driver (to deal with massive regulation changes). I’ve spent my whole career jumping from different specification cars – I’ve driven V10s, V8s, I’ve raced on grooved tyres, on slicks, with KERS, with DRS, with traction control, without it, with refueling, without it. I’m still here!
“Obviously, there’s a period of adaption, but the way I drive – working upwards to find the grip level, rather than working downwards – has always made it quite a seamless transition. As a driver, it’s just an exciting time. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think this formula is too big, and too complex, for a single team to feel secure about getting everything right and quickly establishing an advantage.”
The car was presented with its sponsors’ logos in place, but the absence of the Vodafone branding is noticeable. McLaren has not replaced them yet with another title sponsor.
Analysis of the car – insofar as its possible from photos alone – and the thoughts of JA on F1 Technical adviser Mark Gillan will follow.