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McLaren unveil new MP4 26 car ahead of 2011 F1 season

McLaren unveil new MP4 26 car ahead of 2011 F1 season

McLaren have unveiled the new car that Englishmen Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both hope will make them world champions for the second time.

McLaren decided not to have the car ready for the first test this week to spend more time designing it.

Button said: "This is our new baby, the car we hope will take one of us to the drivers' championship and the team to win the constructors'. It's beautiful."

"We'll be quite a bit more competitive than we were last year," said Hamilton.

McLaren hope the extra design time they have devoted to the car will give them a crucial advantage when the season starts in Bahrain on 13 March.

And the car features a number of intriguing aerodynamic design innovations.

The bodywork is extensively sculpted and there is a novel engine cover design, featuring two air inlets, and the front wing features a series of very dramatic shapes.

The air intake on the sidepods - the bodywork that sticks out either side of the driver - is also a shape never seen in F1 before, double the height on the outside of the car than it is where the intake meets the cockpit beside the driver.

McLaren said the L-shaped sidepod front was an attempt to get more airflow to the rear wing, thereby increasing aerodynamic downforce.

The second air intake is to aid cooling of the gearbox and hydraulics, according to director of engineering Tim Goss, at a time when McLaren have packaged the car as tightly as possible for optimum aerodynamic performance.

McLaren finished second in the constructors' championship last season, with Hamilton and Button finishing fourth and fifth in the drivers' chase in an unprecedented five-man battle with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

But the McLaren was the third fastest car for much of the season and the team hope it will close the gap to Ferrari and, particularly, Red Bull.

Ferrari and Red Bull have already laid down the gauntlet with some quick times in the first test in Valencia this week, while the new Renault also appears to be fast.

But Hamilton and Button are confident they will be in the championship fight again.

Hamilton said: "Last year was one of the best ever, and this year I think we'll have an even more competitive season.

"We've seen it in the wind tunnel but this is the first time we've seen it all together and it looks even better in full size.

Button added: "I've had some fun and good years in F1. But the competitiveness now of the teams in F1 but also the drivers is the best it ever has been in my view.

"You have five world champions on the grid, but also the drivers who have been close like (Ferrari's) Felipe Massa and Mark Webber.

"I hope it's going to be a good fight this year - but hopefully not too good. Hopefully we're going to have a few 10ths on everyone."

Technical director Paddy Lowe said he was confident the team had done everything they could to find performance in the new car.

"We set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011," Lowe 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."

The new McLaren will run for the first time alongside all the other 2011 cars at the second pre-season test in Jerez next week.

Button said: "I'm really looking forward to getting to drive the new car for the first time. Our pre-season simulations suggests that the new Pirelli tyres should be well-suited to my particular driving style, so I'm hopeful of being able to derive a good advantage from the tyres during the races."

More to follow

The new McLaren will run at the second pre-season test in Jerez next week.

The MP4-26 features extensively sculpted sidepods and a novel engine cover design, featuring two air inlets.

More to follow

 

Posted on Friday 4th February 2011

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