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McLaren presents new F1 challenger but no word on team management changes
McLaren Honda
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jan 2014   |  1:24 pm GMT  |  164 comments

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.

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164comments

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1
Krishna Kishor Bhat

Should a Lotus run into McLaren, we would have a great coming together…

2

The comments are heading toward what can be read underneath YouTube videos. You need to keep a tighter reign James, because they are becoming more difficult to read due to the sheer number of comments.

You have the best F1 blog, let’s maintain the quality.

3

The sacking of Whitmarsh has come a bit too late, this man has utterly destroyed McLaren right at its core! Never in the history of human endeavour has such mediocrity been tolerated for such a long time.

4

Its not going to look like this in Australia, dangle a minnow and see which big fish bite….

5

I’m liking the fact that teams are taking a completely different direction on aerodynamics. The FIAT (F14T) nose seems a little odd from a wanting to encourage under chassis air flow so i wonder if this is really the noise they plan to use come the first race. I think all in F1 will hope Lotus have a good car this year. They deserve better.

6

the car itself looks nice but that nose!!! OMG what were FIA thinking with the new rules??? bad looking cars, weird sounding engines (at least from the samples I’ve heard) are not adding to the F1 spectacle. We need the cars to look nice and I will miss the ear-splitting scream of the V8s…

7

They’ve gone back to push-rod front suspension, while Ferrari has stuck with pull-rod.

Interessant.

8

This car needs to be good this year. Thank God they’ve gone back to push rod front suspension. Pull rod is technically inferior and is, in my opinion, why mclaren and ferrari struggled last year. Go mclaren.

9

This year is going to rock 😀 Finally Mclaren are back.

10

When I first read about Eric Boullier to McLaren I thought it was a real coup for Ron Dennis and credit to him (I was actually sceptical when Ron came back into the F1 fold last week).

Eric has been an integral part of Lotus in the last few years and helped them run as a very efficient racing unit. However, let’s not also forget that Lotus have always had that DNA of hard-wired racers in their set-up, and their efficiency does pre-date Boullier joining (think back to their glory days as Benetton and Renault with Schumacher and Alonso). Therefore there is, for me, on further reflection a risk to look at him as a saviour for McLaren when, in reality, a boss may only be as good as the system he works under. McLaren are a much bigger team with a corresponding matrix management system (I think the main crux is that two senior engineers focus on one year’s cars, and the other two ‘overlap’ them to focus on the next year’s) and maybe such a system will be hard for Eric to run as efficiently as the Lotus team were.

In a sense this may be a crunch issue for McLaren; is the problem with the system being fundamentally incompatible with GP racing or is it with the team principal not getting the best out of the system? You’d think it’s more likely to be the latter than the former (and tbf in some years they weren’t far away from winning titles), but the Boullier signing could be an important acid test of this hypothesis.

11

no hype, no talk. That`s a good idea from Mclaren because they really need a solid season. Magnussen looks very quick and will keep Button on his toes. I don’t think Boullier is the answer, he lost Raikkionen to Ferrari and hasn’t really don’t anything impressive. Maybe he`s an interim leader?

12

how unusual, after all this time and the problem seems to be solved. as for the new designs, what were they, the FIA, collectively smoking, when they made the decision to alter the rules?

13

still testing again and again

14

How any design team could look at that and say “alright boys we’ve got it” is beyond me… just so bad it is comical, frankly it looks like a penis.

Also headshaking to me is how such supposedly brilliant people who sign off on these changes could not see the outcome of the regulations as they worded them. Baffling.

F1..brilliance and outright stupidity all at the same time.

15

Aside from the poor form on the track, I wonder if the lack of a title sponsor as a replacement for Vodafone, also a factor in Whitmarsh’s ousting…

16

Hey James…Is there any link between no Mclaren sponsor this year and Honda joining them next year? I bet Honda is going to have a large (multi-year) presence on that car. I would say that Honda ante’s up for a year to reserve their spot on the engine cover!

It wouldn’t be the first time. Remember the Brawn GP sponsorless beast? I’m sure we all know Honda was still footing the Brackley bill!

17

Front end nose design aside… not that I think its bad. Its good to see larger side intake bodywork again and the rear end bodywork looks excellent, neat and effective.

18
John in San Diego

I have to say that I actually find it quite attractive. It certainly looks pretty good from the 360 view at McLaren.com. I also like the look of the Williams from the computer-generated image. I think this is an improvement over the stepped noses of the last two season. Should be interesting to see how they run.

19

I just brought up my breakfast.

20

I thought they were going to be distancing themselves from Mercedes this year? Paint job just looks like the Merc paint job without the Petronas sticker.

Try harder McLaren – paint it orange!

Hope it goes faster than a Red Bull…

21

Wow… This car looks stunning – without doubt the best looking f1 car in years.

To me this car looks amazing….. Honestly all attempts of folk trying to be funny to one side for a moment…… It’s compact, smooth, great lines, just wow!

This car I can see on every young f1 fans wall.

I’m a merc man now but this car… How did they let Hamilton getaway…how!??

22

Great, Now F1 cars not only have noses but big fat nostrils to go along with it!

23

Looks mean and purposeful. I Like it!

24

No title sponsor yet then?

25

Proboscis Monkey anyone?

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