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McLaren reveal highly developed car
McLaren reveal highly developed car
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jan 2010   |  12:22 pm GMT  |  100 comments

McLaren today unveiled its new car the MP4-25 at a ceremony in Newbury at the headquarters of its main sponsor Vodafone.

“Our goal is clear, we aim to win”, said team principal Martin Whitmarsh. He went on to say that this car is the most highly developed car they have ever unveiled, “You never know of course if we have missed something – there are a number of things on this car that I have never seen on an F1 car and I find that heartening. But you never know – there might be some things that are like the double diffuser was for us last year that we have never seen before. So you can never be absolutely confident. We are working hard. This car represents the standard of car that will start to test. It doesn’t represent the standard of car that we will race.”

Like most teams McLaren has an aggressive development programme planned ahead of the first race in Bahrain. The car which starts the season will be quite different in appearance to this one.

McLaren 2010
There was noticeably more focus on the car and the drivers than last season’s launch, when the talk was of the championship recently won with Hamilton and Ron Dennis’ retirement. Today McLaren seemed very focussed on getting it right in the season ahead, focussed on the car and on getting the driver to work together to develop it into a consistent winner. There was a confidence about the team, which comes from knowing that they turned a poor car into a winner last season and they have faith in their engineering staff. The car was described by all the senior management as “very sophisticated” and a big step on from last year’s car.

The car is radical looking, it has a huge shark fin linking the air box to the rear wing. The nose is reminiscent of last season’s Red Bull, but less so than the Ferrari and the Williams. The 2010 cars look bigger and longer than last season, a result of having to accommodate a fuel tank which is twice as large.


The MP4/25 has been designed around the double diffuser, whereas the device was an add on to last year’s car after the protests against Brawn, Williams and Toyota’s devices failed. Engineering director Paddy Lowe said that McLaren’s interpretation of the diffuser was ‘extreme’ but suggested that some teams will have even more extreme interpretations,

“This is the first car in which we have had a clean sheet of paper to really exploit the interpretation [of diffusers] that was developed last year for a design of floors,” he said. “You will see we have produced a fairly extreme incarnation of that but we won’t be alone in that. We believe you will see some pretty extreme solutions on our competitors’ cars as well. We think the interpretation is very clear. In certain aspects we have sought guidance from the FIA and they have come out with very clear interpretation, understanding and guidance – and we think that has been made available to all the teams.” In other words, Lowe does not believe that the grey areas which clouded this issue at the start of last season are replicated this season.

Lewis Hamilton said that he had done a lot of work personally in developing this car. “I’m sure it’s going to handle completely different to last year’s car” said Hamilton.

“I hope so,” said Button.

Ron Dennis was at the launch, along with fellow shareholder Mansour Ojjeh. There was quite a bit of talk about Mercedes, Whitmarsh spoke of Mercedes as still a valued partner of the team, the team is still branded Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, it’s just that the manufacturer back up isn’t there any more and there was no sign of Mercedes hierarchy at the launch. Norbert Haug, the motor sport boss cried off at the last minute with a cold.

You can tell that McLaren are very motivated to go out there and beat Ross Brawn’s works Mercedes team this season, to prove to Mercedes’ board that they made a mistake in leaving them.

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James what do you think are the chances of mclaren and hamilton taking the title?


Having had a closer look at the pictures of the Mclaren MP4-25 it seems the car is lacking a fin above the airbox, is this not where one of the onboard cameras is located? Is it stipulated anywhere in the rules that the car must have a fin above the airbox to house an onboard camera and to identify which car is which (red and yellow for no.1 and no.2 cars)?


The problem with FiA rules are that there are too many of them. This leaves many different interpretations of the rules to the teams. A change for the better is to put the rules on just one page. Tell the teams you need to have the car a certain length, height, width, weight and regulate the wings. Everything else is open. With that you get true “Formula” racing…as in, each team brings their own formula for the race. If someone out-brains the other teams…oh well…back to the drawing board you go.

The FiA needs to stop holding back the brains. That’s my take.


I do find some of these comments amazingly stupid.

“I hope they change the boxy sidepods” seems a recurring these.” WHY?!

The whole point of designing a car is to make it fast enough to be first across the finish line.

They are not trying to win a beauty contest!

I find the sidepods very interesting – much smaller inlets than we have seen before. Fully explained by the extra air ducts starting above the driver’s head. By moving a radiator to the middle rear the car is taking a cleaner flow of air for cooling and allowing less disturbance in what has proved to be a crucial area – feeding the rear diffuser. At the same time they have allowed the fuel tank to take up the space of water hoses to the more usual radiator location.

I would expect the Mclaren to have a more centrally concentrated mass – allowing for lighter ends and a lower moment of inertia – meaning less effort needed to turn and less loading on the tyres. This should lead to a wider sweet spot in avoiding over / under steer.



I have recently become a regular on your site, and wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts on f1, I find it very informative and enjoyable to read.

Anyways back to the topic at hand, now no doubt you have seen these but over at http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk the have put pictures of the new mclaren and Ferrari side by side, only than I noticed the vast differences in the way they have been developed, for example the end plates on the front wings, and obviously the shark fin, now from looking at these pictures it appears the Ferrari looks a tad underdeveloped, from looking at the cars now who do you think has the upperhand

p.s if mclarens risk doesn’t pay off, at least it looks good


You always have to be careful to say too much about cars on launch day as there are so many planned changes. By Bahrain things will have moved on quite a bit.


I don’t understand why some people don’t like fins. To me they look absolutely gorgeous, they make the cars look like futuristic jet fighters, like the technical masterpieces they’re supposed to be. Such beautiful shapes are also a testament to the creativity of the designers. No more soaps on wheels, finally the cars will look different and unique!


They make them visually appear to be ‘heavy’ in the back half. The color has a lot to do with that, ofc. Toyota’s looked awful.


Well, I can see why so many people are badly dressed and groomed in this world.

How some one can find that chunk of carbon fiber elegant is a mystery.

Just look at the second photo on this blog that shows the back fin. that area of the car is so bulky that it is an eye sore. not mentioning the rather boxy sidepods. The nose… it is not exactly fluid either.

Just hope that is a mock up and the real car will be rather different.


A very radical looking car especially with the new engine cover, as always with Mclaren they give 110% in their design.

Now lets see if the looks equal performance!


One more point I’d like to make about the car:

Yet again, we’re not really seeing a protruded rear of the car to fit the bigger fuel tank for this year, whereas many thought we’d see one. The teams must be coming up with some creative packaging solutions.


Having said that, I see how they’ve packaged the fuel tank: longer car. Plus, McLaren apparently repositioned some electronics and cooling.

Here’s an interview with Tim Goss and Paddy Lowe:



“In certain aspects we have sought guidance from the FIA and they have come out with very clear interpretation, understanding and guidance – and we think that has been made available to all the teams.”

When you consider the accusations from the prominent members of FOTA towards the FIA last season over this issue, Todt certainly seems to be having an effect.


The first impression the MP4 25 gives is that it would be a hard to setup car taking its aerodynamic complexity, just remember the BMW F1 08, and probably it will not be suited to low average speed circuits, given its long wheelbase, appears to be even longer than F 10 and the new Williams wheelbase


Yes it is a stunning car from many angles. being a mclaren fan i was hoping mclaren wouldnt copy the concept of the 2009 RBR, because to me that car looked dreadful. am i pleased with the results. it looks so vicious like it will rip up the tarmac from beneath it, a few criticisms however, i do not like the “square” sidepods i hope they become more rounded before bahrain. they need to sort out the vinyls on the engine cover, it certainly doesn’t look like it was designed with the livery in mind, (all bar the vodafone graphic on the side)and i admit i am not a big fan of “sharkfin” engine covers but i must say it looks fantastic on the Mp4-25 i just hope they straighten it out a bit because it looks slightly off shape to me, but thats just me.

Well done mclaren, a brilliant peice of design.


I love the car, I love the box shaped side pods. I’m not seeing much Red Bull at the front whereas I do with the Ferrari.

Is it just me or do the shark fins look more ugly on these cars. I don’t think I like that part although maybe once the car is in action it will look fine, but like the wheel covers, I’ve really never been a fan of the fins.

If it makes it go quick and keeps it stable then stick with it, but from a looks point of view I’m not a fan


Great to see Button is back to his regular helmet – what was he thinking with that day-glo yellow monstronsity last year!


The car looks very nice……..the only worry i have is that car is described as “very sophisticated”………….i hope that does not mean lots of niggles that lead to retirements in races


Gosh, it’s 1995 all over again. The last car that had an engine cover like that didn’t fit Nigel Mansell.

Is it just me who is wondering how people can say it “looks” fast? It looks like a Formula 1 car. We won’t know how fast it is until it’s on the track. You could have a car painted in British Leyland brown that “looks” like the slowest thing on earth, yet on the track it’s streets ahead.

The track dictates speed. Not aesthetics.


It’s intangible. It’s instinctive. But sometimes cars just “look” fast.

If you go back to comments a year ago, everyone was saying the Redbull and Brawn cars “looked” fast a long time before it hit the test tracks.

To me, the Ferarri does not looked like a streamlined car. I’m basing that on nothing but me looking at photos of the car.

The FIA needs to approve designs 100% and forbid any “legal” challenged on rule interpretation. Nobody wants a repeat of last year. Ferarri strike me as a team that will have a big cry is another team is more clever than them. They need to start looking at there own personell instead of trying to destroy the genius work of people in other teams.


Of all the things they could have done, going in an innovative, unusual way is great. It makes me like them already just for taking chances and doing things differently. Kudos!


how small are the sidepods?!


I was somehow under the impression that shark fins were banned… I guess not!


Would be a fantastic looking car but the shark fins should be banned for ever.


James, what do you make of the fact that Ferrari are already preparing a challenge regarding the legality of the diffuser on opponents cars? Do you think they’re spooked by how radical the MP4-25 looks in comparison to the F10 which looks v similar to the F60. Or do you think that it could be the poor wind tunnel tests they’ve been getting from the F10. It seems to be a little unsporting on their behalf that with only one other car being revealed they’re already preparing a legal challenge.

What do you make of it?


Why should a Ferrari response of this kind surprise you? Ferrari always resorts to the courts the minute they find a weakness in their own design.


Well that rumour about Ferrari already planning a B spec car doesn’t make sense, because all cars are designed using computer systems like CAD and you make mock ups to test in the wind tunnel etc to see if all the figures ring true and meet your targets. And then providing all your targets are being met with these results you go ahead and build the car. How can Ferrari just dismiss their F10 design as no good without even testing it on the track. If that’s the case then they’re a lot smarter than McLaren, last year it took them half of winter testing to realise that their car was rubbish! And does the MP4-25 really look that radical? If you take off the shark fin, it doesn’t really look radical at all. Sorry but in my opinion that is complete rubbish…


1: The rumour is that Ferrari have been into a wind tunnel with their new car and it didnt meet the numbers expected. So if true then thats how they know they have an issue.

2: Mclaren knew they had an issue with their car straight away but their numbers didnt match what they had developed. Hence why they used a tested 08 wing to find the issues. They only kept testing to try and find the problems the wind tunnel wasnt showing up.

3: Do you not think the rear end of the Mclaren with the vastly dropping off side pods compared to red bulls undercuts of last year radical? Do you not think the shark fin is radical in its design itself? Do you not think the size of the rectangular radiator openings radical?

To me the Ferrari looks very similar to last years car with some previously seen (on a red bull) concepts. I would say the Mclaren is fairly radical


Yes I do agree in comparison to the Ferrari the McLaren is radically different in appearance. And the McLaren looks radically different to last years McLaren, but I don’t really see any new ideas or unique interpretations, I just see a front end reminiscent of last years BMW at the end of the year and a rear end similar to last years Red Bull. What could be quite radical is the diffuser that they are currently keeping hidden, I’m sure we’ll probably all hear about that next week. But I don’t look at the McLaren and think wow look at how dramatically different it is, in the same way that we did last year when we saw most of the other teams cars and then we saw the Red Bull, that really was radical! The funny thing is I expect some of the teams have adopted some of the ideas from last years Red Bull into their new car designs and then we’ll see the new Red Bull and it’ll have a completely new design philosophy built around maximising the double diffuser concept.


Ferrari are in the wind tunnel all the time..as are all the teams


How do you know they are thinking of doing this? It seems a bit surprising


Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa told Gazzetta dello Sport.”We were and still are convinced that the double diffuser concept was illegal, we feel there may still be interpretation over this, as the rules leave the door open to many possibilities. It’s up to the FIA to supervise, but we are rather worried.”

Piero Ferrari added: “I expect a Ferrari worthy of the title, unless someone interprets the rules differently.”


An article in Autosport:


To be fair the Ferrari spokesman said it prior to the Mclaren’s release. However, it was interesting to not that Martin Whitmarsh today mentioned that they took their designs to the FIA because the diffuser was so radical. The FIA said it was okay and gave guidance to other teams. Ferrari started developing their car a long time ago – by the time they received the guidance from the FIA would probably be too late for them to make major changes to their car. Coupled with poor aero-results as is rumored on various websites it appears that FErrari are looking to find a legal process to make up ground. It would certainly make sense of the other chatter that’s been flying about with regard to Ferrari planning a B’spec car.

I understand that a lot of this is based on rumours and murmurs but it is interesting that Ferrari have made this statement with regards to the legality of other cars BEFORE any of the diffusers have been seen by anyone. That’s what leads me to believe that the ‘guidance’ the FIA gave to all the teams shook them up a bit and they’ve realised that they may’ve been too conservative in their design. Admittedly, this is all speculation and they could have a rocket ship – it just seems strange to talk about a legal solution already.


Paddy Lowe said something interesting…

“It is a very sophisticated car but very elegant. That comes from unprecedented collaboration between aero team and mechanical design team.”

It’ll be interesting to see some more pictures of the car to see what kind of interaction there is between the aero and mechanical design. Could he be hinting that they’re going with something radical on the mechanical side, something on the order of a pull rod suspension?


“unprecedented collaboration between aero team and mechanical design team.”

Sounds very like the battle between engineers and stylists in the road car development, which usually runs “we want it to look like this!” “Then how are we supposed to get all this stuff in there?” This usually leads to mechanical things being redesigned to fit in smaller spaces or in odd shaped spaces, and the stylist saying that the new different line is what he intended all along.


It’s a push rod suspension. There is an interesting element in that there is a duct running from under the air box, through the shark fin and down to cool number of components at the rear of the car. I’m guessing that where this air comes out must be interacting with the diffuser.


How did you get a picture of this? The only picture of the back of the car I found had a cover over the diffuser. (Lowe said they had an “extreme” diffuser solution, so they must think it’s really nifty stuff and don’t want anyone getting any ideas!)


Fantastic looking car. They should give Hamilton and Button batman masks to wear over their visors to complete the effect. Seriously though – is that elongated engine cover legal? It touches the rear wing so doesnt that make it part of the rear wing and subject to the same rules?


they were legal last year and nothing has changed


First of all, the car as usual looks stunning. Hope its performance matches its looks unlike its predecessor.

Why Ham baby alway so keen on emphasizing on what “he” has done for the team? especially in development? Bit weary of someone else’s reputation! 😛


Not as bad as Alonso’s “I bring 8 tenths”


Schumi could chip in here with “I bring more than a second” which he sometimes did!


Amazing to say the least that people who have watched F1 for decades think that a driver can bring in such drastic change in performance with the testing ban we have mid-season :D. Simulators must be better than on-track testings now-a-days.


While I never supported Schumi at Ferrari I would have to very much agree with that comment. Now he is at Merc he is number 4 on my list.





I just wished Massa drove for another team. I would love to want him to win!


Well he clearly did an excellent job last year, with the team, catapulting their way up the grid like no other. Lewis has led the development and, as Kovi left the team, he has carried on this work, Button I would have thought has had little input so far.

I am not sure who else’s “reputation” you are referring to, but as a car developer as well as a driver, Hamilton did himeslf proud in 2009.

Christopher Snowdon

James, serious question, Brawn last year had the fastest car for the first half of the season, but by mid season they didn’t have that advantage. In the last third of the season Mclaren had a faster car. At some races even Force India were challenging the brawns. Considering the bar/ honda team technical department never produced a faster car than Mclaren/Ferrari until they had a 8 month head start, and serious rule changes that they took advantage of with a double diffuser, is it likely to assume the Ferrari and Mclaren cars will resume this status quo this year (even more so considering we see less radical rule changes this year), and will Mercededs get desperate and use their Norbert Houg links to Mclaren to temp staff over?


I thought the main problem with the Brawns in the latter part of the season was that they were struggling to get heat into the tyres.

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