McLaren have today unveiled their new MP4-28, a car designed to compete in the 2013 F1 championship. The curtain was taken off by race drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez who arrived at the scene in McLaren's 2 road cars, the MP4-12C and the P1.
McLaren put up a thrilling show to celebrate 50 years of McLaren. The parade brought to life a string of race- and championship-winning McLarens from across the decades, included 1970’s M8D CanAm sportscar, Emerson Fittipaldi’s iconic 1974 M23, Ayrton Senna’s dominant 1988 MP4/4, our 1995 Le Mans-winning F1 GTR, Mika Hakkinen’s MP4-13 car from 1998 and Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 MP4-23.
"And, for everyone involved in its inception, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 is the logical culmination of everything we’ve ever done: it’s the sum of 50 years’ experience, expertise and passion. The MP4-28 isn’t merely a refinement of last year’s seven-race-winning car, it’s a deep and sweeping re-design of an already successful chassis in several key areas – most notably around the nose and front suspension, the sidepod profiles and the rear bodywork."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said at the launch: "For 2013, of course, we go racing to win. With Jenson and Checo, and this fantastic-looking new car, I believe we’re extremely well prepared for another competitive season. Jenson is driving better than ever – he’s the most experienced driver in Formula 1, but he makes every ounce of that experience count: he’s peerless in his ability to read a race and one of the very fastest drivers out there. He’s a consummate professional, too, and will revel in working hard to drive this team through the year."
"Checo joins us after a sensational 2012 season and he’s immediately proved that he’s intelligent, modest, hard-working and, make no mistake; very, very quick. Of course, there’ll be a learning curve to overcome as he gets used to our organisation, particularly during the hustle and bustle of the early-season race weekends, but he understands that we are placing no pressure on him."
“This is an exciting time for the whole team. In our 50th anniversary season, I want Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to underline why we are the finest grand prix team in the world.”
The actual unveiling happened at 11:20 GMT, showing a car that is very similar to its predecessor. The car that was being launched displays a higher nose than the year before, including a now allowed panel to hide the step of the nose.
The sidepods retain a similar shape, albeit with a little more downward slope towards the exhausts. Contrary to Lotus however, the new MP4-28 does not feature a Red Bull-style exhaust ramp, but instead a developed layout of what they ran during 2012 with the MP4-27.
The new McLaren however does feature a pull rod front suspension, a new feature copied from Ferrari who pioneered it least year on their Ferrari F2012. The rear suspension is also a pull rod design, but that already was the case on the MP4-27 as well. The team did however follow Red Bull's example by merging the lower rear wishbone with the drive shaft into one shell, reducing the drag induced by the suspension arms.
The launched car also features an interesting take on the sidepod inlet, with the side impact structure extending a bit further ahead of the front of the sidepod. The feature is similar to what could be seen on the Lotus E20. It remains however to be seen whether this will make it into a race, as the car's left hand sidepod has a different design, with even a different mirror ahead of it as well.
As ever, launch cars are meant to be launched, so it will be interesting to see what McLaren will actually test at Jerez next Tuesday.