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McLaren launch an eye catching car
McLaren launch an eye catching car
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Feb 2011   |  7:00 pm GMT  |  187 comments

Today in Berlin the McLaren team launched their 2011 challenger and it certainly lived up to the pre-event hype with some very eye catching features. Historically when an F1 car looks this different from the rest it is either really good or the opposite.

Rumours in the German media that McLaren had suggested that the McLaren would have the same radical exhausts as the Renault but this proved not to be the case…yet. It seems that other teams have known about what Renault was working on and are likely to have been trying it themselves to assess the gains. Engineering director Tim Goss suggested that McLaren will have exhaust solutions of its own soon, “It won’t come as any surprise or shock that the exhaust solution on the car today is not what we intend to be testing or racing,” he said. “There will be some other solutions appearing on other cars, and on our cars as well.”

The main talking point on the car is the long wheelbase and the U shaped side pods. “The thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower main plane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double-diffuser,” said technical director Paddy Lowe.

While their main rivals had their new cars ready for the Valencia test this week, McLaren opted to run the old car in Valencia and give themselves some extra development time. This was also due to their strategy of working on data gathering on the Pirelli tyres, in order to build the most sophisticated simulator model of the tyre possible. Jenson Button believes that the testing this is the right thing to do,

“We have just been making steps forward in many different areas. Lewis and myself have been giving a lot of feedback and it has been a good winter of simulator work, and we have a good simulator model of this tyre which is very lucky. If all that set-up effort works when we put it on the car in reality we will be in a very good position already in Jerez.”

McLaren are also reassured by the fact that the Mercedes KERS unit they will use this year is a well sorted and reliable unit, as it will be for Force India, who also ran the 2010 car this week in testing.

McLaren led both championships mid-way through last year but faded in the closing stages as the development didn’t keep up with the opposition. Tim Goss says that the team set itself very ambitious targets for this season in order to sustain a challenge throughout the season,

“We set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011,” he said. “We always want to do more and we’re always very critical about performance, but we feel we’ve done a good job. We’ve identified some areas where we can add performance to the car – over the next weeks, the task will be to get them on to the car and reliable by the first race. That’s the big challenge.”

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It does look long. Could be doing a 3 point turn round the Hairpin at Monaco.


Interesting looking car, though I’m not convinced about the long wheelbase. I hope it doesn’t hit them in the slow corners. Does anyone know whether they’ve gone for a softer suspension set up this year? I felt that their stiff setup really hurt them in some races.


…the first thing I thought of when looking at a pic was l-o-n-g. Didn’t Ferrari or someone have issues with a chassis being too long or too short a season or two ago?


How easy will it be to shorten the wheelbase?

I suppose they only need to do that for Monaco…


The mp4-24 and to a certain extent the mp4-25 didn’t look like winners. But the 26 just looks quick. It’s hard to explain but the RB 6 looked quick in the same way the mp4-22 and 23 did. It’s looks aggressive. I agree that it will either be a winner or a complete dog. Brave considering last years Macca wasn’t exactly a lemon.


I know this is the wrong thread but I’ve just been looking at pictures of the Williams rear end, it looks incredible!!!!


Michael Grievson



From the look – most to the points cars are Ferrari and Red Bull…


I think some people are going overboard comparing this car to the old B195 or Ferrari. There is only a slight visual similarity. In terms of design concepts these cars are an era apart.


I know that it’s a bit early, but I think that the MP4-26 is going to be the Autosport racing car of the year. The 26 is definitely the most aggressive design of all the 2011 cars released to date, and if the team can achieve 2010 levels of downforce like they are aiming to do then this car will dominate. The sidepod channels surely help drive airflow over the rear lower deck and over the diffuser, and I’m sure that this will be one of the keys to the team’s success.


I thought it need to be fast to win that?


The sidepods remind me of the 1995 Bennetton and 1999 Ferrari, both of which were Ross Brawn/Rory Byrne cars. Strangely both the 1996 Bennetton and 2000 Ferrari both dropped the concept…

Good to see Mclaren being innovative as ever, shame the teams will probably spend millions copying it just in time for it to be banned in time for 2012…


I have always viewed McLaren as the ultimate in F1 engineering and design, until RBR came along. I just get the feeling that with this car it will be very good or poor, depending upon how they get the long wheel base to work. Aerodynamically it’s a no brainer, it has to give an edge. But they still have to get this barge around corners on what’s going to be very delicate tyres. Looking back to Schumacher’s LWB Ferrari, that required a lot of fixing to get right and that’s short in comparison. It’s going to be circuit dependent and I am wondering if they have bit off more than they can chew here, especially in light of the predicted tyre issues?


Agreed, the car is not much of a looker but lets all reserve judgment on looks until we have an indication of performance come Bahrain 😉 Interesting to see that RB and Mclaren have gone for pull-rods at the rear and Ferrari opting for push-rods. Also, read somewhere that Mclaren have centrally mounted their KERs unit. Now to me that must be an advantage if other rival teams have them side/off-centre mounted. Then theres also the exhaust designs to consider.

Anyway, in my opinion I don’t think any team will have a huge breakthrough such as the double-diffuser or “flexi-floors/wings” this year.

Looking forward to the new season as always! 😀

F1 2010 to kill time until March

I agree that there is a lot more performance to come from the teams until Bahrain. What I am wondering about James, is the deficit that Merc and Renault especially (and McLaren)is trying to bridge. With the banning on double diffusers and F-duct, wouldnt that cut the deficit in half? Surly RedBull had the upper hand here.. I am not a McLaren fan, but very happy to see that they have understood the need for more innovation to challenge the top 2 teams. Lets hope they dont overdoit. Cant wait for the next test, and the Lotus Renault looks very good! What a season we have to look forward to 🙂


I was wondering about the drivers having the technology and ability to adjust tyre pressures from the cockpit during the race,

could this help in the overtaking delimma?


this year i think will be a Button vs Hamilton battle,

McLaren looks like the team to beat. The return of 1988!


WOW. they have not even hit the track with it!


Is there anything about this design that could be considered rule challenging in the same way that the double diffuser was.


Hi James, thanks for the posting. May I make a request for your 2011 year (assuming you’ll be writing another), Can you include some of the pre-season launches please? I’m interested in comments from the Engineers of rival teams and how they react when they see the performance of the other cars relative to their own. One final point on your 2010 book, I read it for a second time whilst watching the official F1 2010 Review. My final analysis, a ‘Top Read’ from a ‘Top Bloke’ Bahrain can’t come soon enough!


The car looks close to a gimmick to me. At the best it will be great for some races/conditions and really bad at others. Similar thing that happened with the F-Duct innovation last year only this year it seems that it has more like them on board.


This new Mclaren is just hideous, the car is out of proportion, the sidepods are just weird. I was just getting used to the new wings and then this comes along. Even the livery isnt that good, it doesnt even compare to the mp4-21, maybe it has something to do with the Vodafone logo. The new Mercedes has to be the best looking car out of the bunch, shape & livery.

However saying that looks arnt everything, maybe all those innovations could pay off, but its just a maybe.

When was the last time Mclaren actually produced the fastest car? probably 2005 with the mp4-20. the 21 was a pig, 22 was influenced by spygate, 23 is questionable as it was an evolution of 22, 24 was a pig and 25 was the third fastest.


25 was second fastest! Only the skills of Alonso (a driver I love to dislike) kept the Ferrari close.


Oh…and I believed this issue was resolved a long time ago!


The Ferrari data was possessed by junior members of the team and the FIA determined that it wasn’t used in the development of the 22.


I wouldnt say Mike Coughlan was a junior member of Mclaren, legal procedings against Mike Coughlan, Jonathan Neale, Paddy Lowe and Rob Taylor were dropped in Italy after payments of 330,000 euros were made. These were all senior members of Mclaren at that time. Mclaren even admited that a number of employees had access to Ferrari data after their initial investigation found the opposite. Alonso and Dela Rosa were involved too. Mclaren even had information on Ferraris pitstop strategies,




Mclaren are way cooler than Ferrari for this page alone


We seem to be giving a lot of attention to the looks of things. For something like a sculpture, which serves no purpose other that to be looked at, it definitely makes sense.

F1 car must first be fast. If it isn’t, then no matter how beautiful (and this Macca certainly is pretty), it is useless.

Next tests start in five days.


the last time mclaren had such a radical car they never managed to race it. the best mclaren cars atleast in the last decade have been the ones which look the least striking (mp4-20,22, 23). this one reminds me of the mp4-18…another unique looking car which was a total disaster.


I certaintly hope you’re right!


‘Historically when an F1 car looks this different from the rest it is either really good or the opposite’

I’ve been watching F1 since 1992 aged 11 and I only really recall two cars that looked completely different to the rest of the field that were utterly awful. The 1995 McLaren and the 1996 Ferrari.

Anyone care to expand on which cars looked different to the rest and were either really good or the opposite. The Brawn of 2009 was the best car I can remember but that was all about the double diffuser and hidden to the naked eye.


The Walrus nosed Williams of 2003(?) was very different and also didn’t live up to expectations.


Rear engine, wings, ground effect, 6 wheel, fan car, turbo. Not visible would be monocoque, carbon monocoque, automatic gearbox, active suspension, 2 brake pedals.


Schumacher’s Benetton B194 in 1994 had the raised nose which he kept competitive despite having a weak engine. Several teams copied the nose the next season but Benetton kept MS and got a Renault engine, which proved to be a deadly combination.


My god what an ugly car! I’m amazed how many comments praising it’s looks there are, it may turn out to be quick but it certainly aint pretty! Looks like a jumble of ideas thrown together.

It’ll be interesting to see if they have any cooling issues, can’t imagine how they have managed to squeeze the radiators in. Will be impressed if they manage to fit “renault” exhasts in those sidepods aswell.

If it turns out to be quick all the cars may have funny L shaped side pods this time next year.


Likewise, highly unattractive when viewed from the front.

It’s redemption would be if it’s fast.


re sidepods… looks like they finally found a place to put that kitchen sink they talked about so much last year

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