F1 Winter Break
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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The car looks like the 1995 Benetton, albeit repainted and slightly modified. Let's see what they can do with the car; Button was quite happy with Pirelli, I reckon LH will adapt anyway.

One more gimmick to copy along with the front exhaust.

Not a big fan of McLaren myself because of their title sponsor, I've issues with Vodafone's mobile internet anti-service. They ripped me off and now money went into McLaren.


Ah, McLaren and their evil sponsors who provided me with poor mobile network coverage.

Now excuse me while I head outside to cough up some blood and have a couple of fags from a box that looks suspiciously like the Ferrari car.


Looks very much like the 1992 Ferrari also with those sidepods.


I'm surprised a reader of James' blog would discount a team based on their sponsor. This blog give so much more insight into the sport than a passion for the sponsors.

Surely there are more relevant factors to take into consideration? What about the drivers' skill and personality? the team's prowess with regard to their engineering, strategy and decision making?

If your passion has to be for one of the stickers on the chassis... it has to be for the marque!


The opposite is also true of course - i have no real reason to like Sutil, but feel compelled to support anyone you receives personal sponsorship from Capri-Sun! Go Sutil!


Well, I think your reply to the original comment is misinterpreted. The comment was not based on the blog. It is based on the story and the story leads to the team. F1 is the biggest political sport that there is (so is your comment by the way jon). This sport is all about sponsorship, all about market share & tv rights, in other words "BIG MONEY". So I think any reader or a fan has the right to discount whatever team he/she wants based on their sponsor. And this blog allows people's honest but moderate comments last time I checked.

Vodafone is not only McLaren's biggest sponsor but also share the name of the team!!! So, obviously McLaren is selling Vodafone's product through F1. Now, as a phone company Vodafone is probably the worst company there is based on their complaints rate and the complains in every area imaginable over the last few years (just google it, you'll find out). As a fan I think it's fair not to support some teams based on their sponsors or partners. Now I believe MPH is trying to say that he is not going to support McLaren because he bought a bad product because McLaren advertised it. MPH's comment is one of those "insight" this blog provides from what I see & there's not harm on expressing his frustration here. Half the people in this blog do the same anyway!!


Hmmm... I agree, sponsorship plays an important part in F1. Maybe I'm being naive in thinking that people should support a team irrespective to who sponsors them. I support Mclaren because of the drivers and the team. I respect Red Bull because of I supported Brawn because of the story and the rollercoaster. I would have supported Mercedes because of Ross - but can't cause of Schumi.

I guess you're right (and sorry for my sense of humour failure) everyone has a right to follow a team based on their own reasons... who am I to judge?


Maybe this one was bit personal, I normally don't do that kind of stuff. Vodafone sponsored quite a few teams in the last 10 years...

Maybe I should use me own blog to vent me frustration with some of the companies involved in F1. Maybe I'll do that but not now since I'm preparing for my Jerez trip next week.


Good point. Sports, sponsorship, televison, t-shirts . . . it's all integrated these days. The buzz word a couple of years back was 'synergy'. Nike received a ton of emails asking them to drop Michael Vick after the dog fighting incidents came out.


Lotus vs Lotus ????


does this count if the team is Red Bull?


...hum...seems a bit personal to bring into F1 🙂


Yeah the Consumer Commission here in Australia says that Vodafone customers can walk out on their mobile contracts due to unacceptably low levels if network performance.


I think the new car looks great, but wonder if the other teams are going to be marching a quick step to the FIA's door about the dual intake on the airbox and the obviously radical design of the side intakes. Like the piece says, it'll either be the big thing for this season or fail miserably. More likely to be a great design though, would expect McLaren to make that much of a mistake. Bring on the next test!


How can people say the car look great. A front view of the car shows how ugly it is. The sidepods are utterly hideous. They remind of that early 90s Benetton and an ugly Ferrari as well.


The technical details of the car mention that one of the secondary intakes is for KERS cooling and the other is for oil cooling.


We will find out how good it is when it hits the Q1 in Bahrain I guess. I agree with James that it is either going to be very good or completely oposite. I am not a McLaren fan, but I hope it is a good enough car to have a highly competetive season.

McLaren is probably pushing hard on quali and fast start performance at this stage more than any other teams based on the new car design so far. Hopefully this season, the difference in quali time is not going to be too big as we witnessed last season. Would love to see the entire top 10 is covered within 0.1 sec or 0.2. But it seems unlikely so far. Personally I am glad to see the new tyre company. Bridgestone was too reliable for last season. Particularly because there was no refuelling and the cars and tyres were too good, therefore we need tyres that won't last more than 100ks. 2/3 pit stops in a race will make the races more entertaining.


Mercedes have dual intake, and had it last year I believe.


Don't like it. Another year of playing catch up and LH over driving to compensate!!!! Since Ron left...


How can you determine that from just looking at it. Perhaps Mclaren need your mystic talents.


Got to hand it to the chaps at McLaren as their car looks awesome though I think they're not showing anything like their hand at present.
2011 bring it on


Stunning looking car. Hope it drives as well as it looks! Lots of people are talking about the side-pods and air intake but for me it's the front wing that looks like the most intriguing part of the design. Very highly developed.


The front wing is just the end of last years 2010 model I believe...


I'd guess that front wing is as fake as the plastic engine they showed under the cover. Let's wait till they show the real thing in Barcelona and Bahrain.


More pics of car here:


Looks good!


I love those side pods. The whole car looks really well put together. Of course the proof of the pudding...


Does anyone know why McLaren's cars have numbers 3 and 4 on them?

I'm confused, by my reckoning Alonso should be car 3 and Massa car 4.


"Can you confirm that you understood the message?" Everyone wants to be no. 1, but only one can.

Aptly, this reply may be number 24 to your post (not taking into account possible others awaiting moderation), the highest number in the current car numbering system.


Do you think you got enough replies?


The numbers are actually done on constructors from last year, apart from number 1 and 2, which goes with the driver.

Hence, as Mclaren were second in the constructors in 2010, they get 3 & 4, and Ferrari, who were third get 5 & 6.


Mclaren finished second in the constructors championship 🙂


Mclaren came second in the constructors championship, the drivers champion takes 1 and 2 to his team, even if hes changed teams, the rest are based on where the team finishes in the constructors championship.


McLaren was second in the constructors standing last season, Ferrari was third.


McLaren came in second for WCC.


Numbers 1 & 2 go to the team with the drivers champion, for this season its Red Bull with Vettel. Thereafter it goes by constructors championship standings, so McLaren then Ferrari.

If the drivers champion changes team, he bring the number with him, much like how Button brought the number 1 with him too McLaren last season, relegating Mercedes to 3 and 4 even though they won the constructors championship.

Seems simple enough...


Only 1 and 2 are decided by the previous WDC. The rest of the positions are based on the previous constructors championship in which Mclaren finished 2nd.


Car numbering goes by WCC positions not WDC positions


The championship winning driver takes the No. 1 and his teammate No. 2, but after that it goes in order of the constructors championship, so McLaren, Ferrari...etc.


Drivers champion gets 1 (and 2 for his team), after that it goes in constructors championship order. Ferrari were third in the constructors so it should be Alonso 5 and Massa 6 (i think).


McLaren finished second among constructors. For all but the driver's championship team, car numbering is based on the contructors' championship.


because mclaren were second in construction chamipionship.and grid is formed on con champ.except word chamipon gets no 1 .


Besides #1, the car numbers are arbitrary. Senna won in 1990 with #27!


I think they finished in front of Ferrari in constructor points.


The team who the current world champion drives for gets numbers 1 and 2, regardless where the team came in the constructors championship.

The remaining teams numbers are determined by the order in which they finish in the constructors championship.


The numbers the teams are allocated are based on the Constructors' Championship, not the Driver's Championship. McLaren finished second in the Constructors' Championship, therefore where allocated the numbers 3&4.


Except for Number 1 and 2, from 3 onwards is awarded based on the teams position in the championship not the drivers.


It is because they finished 2nd in the constructors championship last year.

The world champion driver gets #1 and then the teams are ranks by constructors championship placing.

So Mclaren are #3 and #4


The "numberrule" is as following:

1 and 2 for the World champion and his teammate, regardless of where the team placed on the standings the previous year. In other words, Vettel gets 1 as hes the champ, Webber is 2, even though he finished 3.

3 and up is given to the rest of the teams based on their placing the previous year; McLaren finished 2nd ahead of Ferrari in 3rd, thats why McLaren gets 3 and 4, and Ferrari 5 and 6. The rest of the teams get their numbers under the same "rules".


The numbers go by the constructor's stanndings and not the drivers. But 1-2 is always given to the champ and his trammate. The rest will fall in place. If the champ retires the wcc gets 0 and 2


world champion gets no.1, top constructor other than world champion's gets next numbers and so on... only no.1 is based on driver standings


Constructors position gets the numbers after 1 and 2 (so, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc).

Mclaren was second in Constructors last year so they get 3 and 4, Hamilton 3 because he ended in front of Button.


The Ferrari F310 returns! 😀


I love the way the new Mclaren looks. If its as fast as it looks.....

(Said that last year too)


Don't worry you are not the only one. I bet even the McLaren bosses are saying that for a few years now having not being able to win a constractor's championship in a while!!!


I really hope I am wrong but McLaren's late launch strategy seems awfully risky given the solid and (largely) reliable 2011 car tests from Red Bull and Ferrari. How faffing about with pretetious stunts like today's fits into maximizing development time alludes my understanding.

That being said, in terms of the design, going radical as McLaren have done, seems the only sensible strategy given the stupendous pace of the Adrian Newey designed Red Bulls.


Redbull Launched late last year! Remind me,where did they finish in 2010?


I'm not sure that's a fair comparison; the 2009 Red Bull was already the fastest car on the grid, spending a few extra days in the wind tunnel refining that concept into a 2010 car made sense. McLaren are playing catch up, so their radical 2011 car makes sense but you'd also think they'd want to get it on track as early as possible


Quoting JA, 'Very good or completely oposite'. McLaren's performance is as changable as the London weather.


Nice side pods for a Batmobile... we'll see how reliable computer design is.


Wow, this year looks like another cracking year for F1. With that many innovations from all the teams it promises an exciting year for F1. Our beloved sport is regaining it long lost glory.

There seem to be 3 distinct camps between the teams and their interpretation of the rules.

Those who fine-tune an existing concept, those who innvoate but retain last years concept and McLaren.

If it can keep pace with Red Bull and Ferrari at the start of the season, expect fireworks!!!


I think McLaren have done a good job of hyping their innovations. I don't know that that itself puts them in a different technical league.


I agree, I seem to remember hearing some of the same praises about the MP4-25.


Thus far, no new ideas on the McLaren that we know about. They have followed Red Bull with pull rod rear suspension though.


Well said George,I think a little bit of fear creeps into some fans minds when they see something so different from the previous year!


My point about being in a different league was with regards to braking out of the tried and tested mould that most teams seem to have chosen i.e not refine an existing idea. They could quite possibly be at the bottom of the league or at the top of the league. We have to applaud though the fact that they do try and innovate and introduce new things to a sport that change is hard to come by. Ultimately the results of their efforts will be the ultimate judging factor. If they don't blow their own trumpet who will? Nothing different to what any other team does here.


I think it looks good. I think it's either gonna be super quick or slow like in 2009.


It's not a pretty car is it?
I think the colour saves it alot. Does look different though and that's always a good thing. It will be interesting to see if it's on the pace.


Other than the u shaped sidepod I don't see anything extraordinary.

However... I have a haunch the 3 main contenders are hiding things and will unveil more at the next test and Bahrain.


That looks gorgeous. Any idea yet as to whether it has pull-rod suspension? So far only Lotus Renault and Team Lotus seem to have adopted it.


they confirmed, they are using pull rod suspensions, due to the aerodynamic gains.


Yup, it does. Last paragraph here:



It has pull-rod rear suspension.

In fact, of the teams that have revealed their 2011 car, only two teams have push-rod rear suspension - Ferrari and Sauber.


It's pull-rod, Williams too, according to the spec page on their websites.


It is pullrod rear, it's in the tech spec.


James...How long is the wheelbase in comparison to red bull and ferari? I also notice a lot of teams haven't launched with the shark fin except red bull, is this because it's something that can be easily added later.


Brilliant! I love innovative solutions to aerodynamic regulations even if they don’t work like the tusk nose Williams.

That’s why I liked Max Mosley’s rule of a budget cap, the aero regulations would’ve been far less restrictive and we’d have far more innovative designs.

I know in 2013 the engine regulations are changing, does anyone know if the aero ones are too?


Yeah well Andrew Benson from BBC seemed to think so. He says both the snow-plow front wing and tall narrow rear wing will be out in 2013. I know neither if that's true, nor if so what will replace them stylistically.

I'm coming around to the budget cap idea. Even if it's 100 million, we need more technical freedom. I can't stand the homologated designs.


J Was it not the best idea to Unveil there car 2 day. Would it not be better to unveil it on the first day of the next practice because now the other teams have got an exstra week to copy parts of there car


Takes a bit longer than that...



Any idea why none of the other teams copied Ferrari's wheel hubs that improve cooling?

New season means they could have new rims with the awfully ugly hubs.

Thanks for the great webpage.


What is there to copy? Those sidepods are an old idea. F192, B195....



Have a look at the F310, F192 and B195. Exactly the same concept, with an channel cut next to the driver, resulting in odd shaped sidepods.


Did those cars have U-shaped sidepods? I dont think so....


Conceptually, the exhaust-blown diffuser was also an old idea... and look at how that turned out.

The point is not only whether the raw insight is unique but whether it delivers best-in-class performance in the current context of regulations, right?


Sorry but the F92A had a scoop up with elongated radiator pods - while the B195 had a small step with rectangular vents - neither had an L-Shaped hole, and neither had a low section running the length of the pod. Can't be compared with the two.


Exactly. And who knows how good it is anyway. Nobody is going to copy anything until they see the datas first. Might be a slow car, who knows!!!


Whoever told us that Red Bull was going to run away with the title. Think again.

This car means business. It is either going to be a farce or a Bull killer.

This is what F1 is all about: Radical innovation and out of this world engineering, driven by a relentless passion for racing. It translates into their car design AND livery.

I hope Mercedes GP get their act together. Their car & livery look beautiful as well.


i agree, the Merc is beautiful but the Mclaren is as aggressive as a punch in the face! Love it, especially front on:)


I have a good feeling about this car. Looks like they have made a few bold innovations. I hope they translate into good pace.


I hope it translates into engine cooling issues and thus engine failures....

If you want to see a pure racing car that was built with passion , go look at the Ferrari !

Forza Ferrari


Funny how stereotypes get thrown around. If anything, the F150's design so far has looked conventional and conservative.


Love it!!!


mmm... as eye catching as the ferrari F310 was.


...rather looks ugly with this sidepods, hope its not fast, not to be copied by others.


It was great to see McLaren involving the public with the launch of the car and effectively building it up! It was refreshing, interesting and was worth watching live!

Also i'm pretty amazed at the level of innovation on the car designs this year. Take the sponsorship off all the cars, line them up and at the moment you would easily identify all the cars! Could say that for past years!

Were you at the McLaren launch James? Great site by the way!


I agree with you, great to see the fans there


It's a far cry from the days when a new car unveiling needed the Spice Girls AND Jamiroquai on the playlist as well. Resource Restriction barely pays enough to get a "Woo Hoo!" from "Song 2" over the PA....


Way to keep your musical references 1997 vintage... 😉


I like how Mclaren always acts like they are the only team that is innovative, or capable of building computer models, and developing midseason... Actualy that was just a joke, I'm getting tired of mostly talk an little action from the MTC. Martin whitmarsh spent a lot of time criticizing other front runners and drivers and blown whistles last year. If you just listen to them you'd think they were the only f1 team with a gp2 teams all around them, sort of like Ferrari stating every year that they must win fom the very start and then eating ther words a month later.
The car's ugly... Here's hoping it's as slow as the mp4-24 was


You are right about Whitmarsh spending a lot of time last year trying to pick holes in the Red Bull design. However, I think if roles were reversed that Red Bull would have done the same.

On the car, I can't wait to see it in action, it's such a different design and I hope it gets them off to a flyer. Still, we all know a car isn't necessarily fast based on just one design element.


He is also right about McLaren acting like the only team with innovative ideas. Makes me laugh sometimes when they seem to have won no team title in a long time. Don't worry, Whitmarsh will find problems with other teams or drivers or cars or maybe even his own team if McLaren doesn't win any of the 1st 2/3 races.


McLaren now more than ever, needs to sell road cars, remember? The marketing department is doing its (often dirty) job.


If you want slow, go for the MP4-19 😉


.....and similary when one hears platitudes in favour of one particular team that chooses to use red paint with the suggestion that their team is F1.


Looks innovative and could be a very fast car. One thing they'll have to do is get the cooling right, the intakes look small so it could be more difficult to cool the car.

Reliability could be crucial this year, and Lotus Renault GP have shown theirs


The 1996 Ferrari looked different from the rest and that was a dog of a car.


I think the 96 car was old hat though. They were just about the only team to have the old style low nose. And they ditched that midseason anyhow


really excited to see how this car performs, especially in Lewis's hands!


What stood out for me was shape of the sidepods creating better air flow to rear wing and more downforce, other pieces like curvy front wing will it be enough to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari. Cars will change alot between now and Bahrain.


Hmmmm, James - no mention of the second air intake behind the air intake above the drivers head.... whats that for?


Thanks for that... it helps how comlex everything has become!

Those Super Chrome McLarens

Looks great, hope its better than the 25, just hope that the long wheel base doesnt effect the car over the bumps like last year. Would also would be nice if we could actually have a car that can firmly plant it's rear end and get the power down.


Nice, I was thinking the same James, either very good or very bad. I am not sure what the double overhead intake is about does anyone have a reference to an article about it?


Never mind I found this on planetf1

"For 2011, KERS [hybrid] is now a single integrated unit that sits within the survival cell, beneath the fuel-tank. In 2009, it was housed in the sidepods. The hybrid's cooling intake sits directly below the main roll-hoop intake.

"And, once again, we've really pushed the car's cooling configuration: we've got a second air intake on the engine cover for gearbox and hydraulic cooling."


Good point about radical cars, the Lotus 72 was quite a shock in it's day nearly as much as the Skateboard Brabham.... But don't the side pods remind you of the first twin air box Brabham Alfa? Those l shaped radiators must have been fun to design, even more fun to build.

A nice change to have a car that looks so different, not like the 70's when every car looked distinctive.


hmmm... is this Mercedes putting customer teams in their place, by delivering powertrains after the first test?

Let's face it, both McLaren & Force India (in their different ways) can take points from Mercedes.

In F1, every 0.1% edge is an advantage.

Losing 2 testing days with your 2011 powertrain wouldn't be something you'd choose to do, in a perfect world. Odd that two Mercedes customer teams did just that.


Doubt it. This was about the show. And trying to create the perception they were letting people see the internals.

I think in reality they will be trying not to let everyone see it if they think it's good.

A lot of top teams are keeping things back to delay the catchup game.


It will be interesting to see the exhaust solution. When the side pods were off at the beginning of the unveiling, there was no electronics in the side pods and the exhausts ended short of the rear. Once the covers were placed on the car there was no room at the rear end for the exhausts. Hope mclarens solution will be a little different.


I really think Mclaren may just have the car this year that Red bull had last year.

They have a KERS system was reliable, interesting for Mercededs that before the take over of Brawn, Norbert Haug of Mercedes who were one of Mclaren's title sponsers in 2009, extolling the virtues of the Mclaren's KER system.

Also the testing days at Valencia the Mclaren car was still quite competitive, with all drivers having good runs !!

Still the 2011 season, blue touch paper has been lit, could it be better than last year, 5 world champions on the grid ... bring it on !!!


It's a beautiful car.


When looking at the U shaped side pods, it seems the pods are positioned in front of the rear tires and more air is flowing directly to the rear wing.

Will it help?

Everyone here is alredy excited for the new season...

Jeremy (CapeTown - SA)

The car is looking absolutely stunning!!!can't wait for the Mclaren's to rock n roll again. Bahrain here we come.


Certainly looks different to the rest. It will be interesting to see whether they incorporate the reverse exhausts like Goss hinted. James, i wondered what your views were on the whole pull rod vs push rod debate. Mclaren have clearly gone the way of red bull on this but ferrari seem to be sticking to their guns. Could this be the deciding factor in this years title race? Or are we more likely to see the reverse exhausts as this years "must have" technical device?


I've not gone into that yet. So much to consider


By the way James, are you going to be with ONE HD this year? Always enjoyed your part of the tv show in Australian TV. Peter Windsor did a great job for years too. You filled his shoes very well. What is Peter Windsor up to now a days anyway?


Check out his twitter. He does an online show I think. Peterdwindsor I think is his account.


Yes I'd like to know about Peter Windsor too. As a Brit in USA, I feel sorry for him, as he must be feeling 'outcast' yet I feel his was a genuine attempt to get into F1 with USF1 that sadly just went wrong. I know it's not as simple as that, but I'd like to see him 'welcome' in the pitlane again. Unable to watch Brundle/BBC here, he was good on Speed TV.


Not sure I entirely believe the reason given for the non-attendence at Valencia. Too glib.

It looks good in profile but that awful front wing! Can't the regulators do something about it? These cars are like a beautiful girl apart from her nose.


Our hope is for 2013. Andrew Benson, of BBC, reported that the ugly front wing will be sacrificed by way of something more appropriate. Can't confirm that yet though with other sources.


I think one of the remarkable features of the 2011 machines has just been the extent to which they look the same.

I'll only grant the McLaren bucks this trend with their U sidepods. That's not to say that beneath the skin there aren't unique engineering but this is hidden from the observers eye.

I have felt enormously underwhelmed by the 2011 car launches. In many cases it looks like nearly a dozen different paintjobs on the same chassis.

People seemed to be of the uniform opinion that the 2008 style appendages were eyesores. Au contrare, in my view, I delighted in the staggering aero sophistication of the 2008 front-wing and the bodywork at the rear of the chassis around the rear tyres. Just brilliant, to me.

Such a contrast to the cookie-cutter moulds we've seen in every launch in 2011. Whilst I will reserve judgement on the quality of the racing, even though I suspect the Banana Pudding-life tyres and ludicrous rear-wing rules will hamper it, I can rest assured that the cars wont be enjoyable to watch.

One can't even find solace in the GP2 machines which have taken on F1's backward design concept this year. Help!

Thomas in Australia

What a beauty!

Pirelli tyres look right on this years cars.


The 'upside-down' sidepods look a bit weird, but I like the stright nose. No 'horns' like loads of last year's cars had.


So much for how small rear engined cars are! That's a longer wheelbase than a W125 (which as I recall was 107 inches) and way more than the "dinosaur" Indy roadsters (96 inches).

James, has anyone involved with McLaren (or along pitlane generally) expressed any concern that the cars are getting too long and/or bulky? It seems to me that at tracks like Monaco, and through Monza's chicanes, it'll be iffy to get through without having bad pileups with such long cars.


They are getting a bit long aren't they.

On the up side though, maybe the hairpin at Monaco could become a 3 point turn? That might improve rac... or not


The car looks spectacular. lots of interesting features on it and more to come in the coming weeks as the unveil their final racing package. I can remember thinking that the 2010 car was something special from the launch pictures because it looked so good and it turned out to be not that great. I hope that this 2011 car is a better performer.


Going for the long wheel base might be one of the talking points but this is arguably a risk averse strategy by maintaining the same design philosophy from 2010 based around the diffuser.

Did n't the Redbull have a single diffuser and a shorter wheel base?


What about the wheel hubs with the aero covers? These were banned in 2010 but Ferrari fashioned them into the design of their wheel hub? Seen any more teams follow suit on this or is this something that could emerge when the season starts proper?


I dont think they were specifically banned per se, but rather the FIA made it near impossible by limiting surface area of the spokes/wheel face, if they figured how to do it an still maintain wheel integrity, good on them.

Its kind of annoying because the only reason the wheel fairings were banned is because of the complexity brought to tire changes added by extra pieces that had to be affixed to the wheel nut and with the reduced time in pitstops with no fuel they didn't want more wheels flopping off like Fernando's Renault back in 2009. The Ferrari aero wheels are permanent in the sense that they don't rely on the air-gun operator to secure them at every pitstop so they add no complexity to the pitstop and should be fine. The ferrari design is classic example of FIA banning clever innovations "just because"


whhels have to be homologated at the start of the season, so you can't introduce them after the first race.

Michael Grievson

It would have been nice to have the launch in the UK. I'd love to have seen it. Being a British team with two British drivers and a british title sponsor


A british team as in a team founded by a New Zealander running with German Engines with a British License. Next you'll be telling me that if the title sponsor has a big ego then you'd rename the car Lotus...

I think where they launch a car is one of the most telling things about the team. Marussia Virgin (Russian License now btw) are launching in the BBC studio hoping for attention, obviously brand. Ferrari have created a great spectacle with a launch and speaches and running of the car on their private test track etc... Williams haven't even bothered.

Really says something. Don't mind teams launching anywhere, just seems a bit weird given there is no real link here, just purely to promote the brand there.


The only thing German about the Mercedes engine is the money that bought the British company that builds them. Come to think of it much of that money comes from cars sold around the world - and some of them are built in America!

I also find it laughable that Red Bull race under the Austrian flag. Full marks to Renault for finally recognising their chassis is British built and choosing to race under the British flag this year.


Their last two launches were in UK and Germany is an important market for Vodafone. But the public dimension yesterday was good


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


'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.


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!


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.




Mclaren are way cooler than Ferrari for this page alone


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,


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.


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!


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


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!


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?

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 🙂


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! 😀


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?


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 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?


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.


From the look - most to the points cars are Ferrari and Red Bull...


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



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.


How easy will it be to shorten the wheelbase?

I suppose they only need to do that for Monaco...


...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?


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.


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

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