McLaren unveils the MP4-27

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team unveiled their latest challenger, the MP4-27, during a press event in Woking today (February 1st).

The team hopes the Mercedes-powered car will deliver that elusive championship success after missing out on both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles for the past two years.

Even though McLaren scored six victories last season in the hands of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the team were severely beaten by the dominant Red Bull, especially up against the youngest back-to-back champion Sebastian Vettel.

Button, who finished in the runner-up position in last year’s championship, believes that the MP4-27 will deliver good results for the team.

“It’s very exciting day for us all,” said Button. “It’s the moment when we see how hard we’ve all been working.

“These guys have been flat out since we finished racing in 2011 on improving the car as much as they could in the simulator and I’m looking forward to getting out in it at Jerez.

“I am sure everyone is apprehensive when you start testing and I cannot wait to jump in the car.”

After admiring the MP4-27 for the first time, Hamilton said: “I think it is fantastic. It’s great to be here after a great winter.

“Seeing hard work going into building this car is inspiring. It is the most refined-looking car we have had for some time so we are looking forward to getting back in it.”

Ahead of his sixth season with the team, Hamilton added: “It feels very much like only yesterday when I went up to (former team boss) Ron (Dennis) and said I wanted to race for his team.

“But we’ve been competing at the front all those years. We’ve strength in depth, a great foundation from which we work. This is a team that never gives up.”

Caterham were the first team to launch last week (January 25th), with their car sporting a ‘duck-billed platypus’ shaped nose, the result of the meeting between front suspension and chassis.

That has been based on the new FIA regulations that decree a higher nose, with many suspecting that would be the way forward, leading to it being described as ‘ugly’.

However, the new McLaren remained very much true to past cars, with a smooth transition across the chassis from cockpit to the front wing.

Button said: “This is a beautiful car, which for me is important. Many you see will not be.”

Hamilton concurred, adding: “We’re coming in massively motivated, very fresh, and when you have a good-looking car, generally it’s a good car, so hopefully that is the case.”

Hamilton and Button represent a third of the six world champions that will be on the grid this season for the first time in the sport’s history.

The British champions are joined by Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and the returning Kimi Raikkonen, who this season will be driving for Lotus.

Hamilton added: “We love to have competition. It’s great to have so many great drivers. Hopefully there won’t be too many more added to it.

“It’s great for fans, great for the sport.”

So the drivers and team are motivated. Can the MP4-27 deliver that championship success following Red Bull domination? I’ll await with keen enthusiasm during the official testing at Jerez next week.

9 thoughts to “McLaren unveils the MP4-27”

  1. After a difficult and stressful 2011 season, Lewis Hamilton had commented that his break has ‘refreshed’ his approach to this year. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton says a complete break from Formula 1 over the winter has left him refreshed and ready to put his troubled 2011 campaign behind him.

    Speaking at the launch of the McLaren MP4-27 in Woking today, Hamilton said team boss Martin Whitmarsh had allowed him to take a longer than usual break post-season and he used it to rethink his approach ready for what he hopes will be a stronger 2012.

    “I was over in the cold mountains in Colorado, spending time with family and friends,” said Hamilton, who was beaten by a team-mate in the championship standings for the first time in his F1 career last season as Jenson Button took second in the championship compared to Hamilton’s fifth place.

    “I did lots of training, I didn’t miss much, and I was not missing the car too much.

    “It was nice to be away from it for a while, just to get the energy back, refresh. Starting anew and getting back into training was fantastic.

    “Last year I was training too much and this year I balanced it a bit better. Spending time with family and friends is how you get your energy. I was grateful for Martin for allowing me to have such a good break.”

    Although Button’s improved form in 2011 was partly put down to the car becoming more suited to him in his second year at McLaren, Hamilton is confident the MP4-27 can work well with both drivers’ styles.

    “We work closely as a team, me and Jenson,” he said. “You sometimes have drivers who demand different things. Jenson and I have similar set-ups so we demand the same thing.

    “I don’t feel it will benefit him more than me – and I think he feels the same. We generally agree with what we need to do.”

    The Briton said he was particularly impressed by the “refined” appearance of the MP4-27.

    “I think it is fantastic,” said Hamilton. “Seeing the hard work going into building this car is inspiring.

    “It is the most refined looking car we have had for some time so we are looking forward to getting back in it.”

  2. Jenson Button hopes the new MP4-27 will hit the ground running during the official testing at Jerez, Spain next week. has the details.

    Jenson Button is hoping the new McLaren MP4-27 will hit the ground running and allow the team to enjoy a stronger build-up to the season than in 2011.

    The Woking team launched its 2012 car on Wednesday hoping it will allow it to stop Red Bull Racing’s run of titles after a dominant 2011 campaign for the team and Sebastian Vettel.

    McLaren endured a troubled pre-season last year, with several problems hindering its preparations ahead of the first race.

    Button, who won three races on his way to second place in the championship, admitted he never expected to win with last year’s car after he first tested it.

    Now the Briton is confident the same will not happen with the new car.

    “I personally didn’t feel we were going to win races last year after the first test,” he said during the launch of the MP4-27.

    “Normally you get a good feeling from the first test and build on that feeling for the first race. It is tricky, especially when you have new regulations.

    “It’s difficult to know where you stand. I’m hoping we are in a good position when we wheel the car out in Jerez.

    “The most important thing is to get miles done in testing, so we have time to fine-tune car so you arrive at the first race and you are not worried about anything. We are all positive now and hopefully that will continue in testing.”

    Button, however, is aware that beating Red Bull will not be easy, as he is not expecting the team to build a slow car after the success of the past two seasons.

    “Red Bull will be strong,” said Button. “You don’t suddenly build a bad car after wining the championship for two years. We hope they do – but I would be surprised if they do.

    “We don’t know where we stand, so the important thing is stay focused on what we do, look at the next few weeks and see where we stand then.”

  3. McLaren believes it has not taken a cautious approach to its new MP4-27 over the winter, despite the problems caused by the radical elements it tried in pre-season testing last year.

    Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said at the launch of the new car that McLaren is not expecting a repeat of last year’s poor pre-season. But he was keen to point out that the team had not opted for a careful approach to its development over the winter.

    “This year we have not been cautious but we have found some good performance,” Whitmarsh said.

    “We have set ourselves some tough targets that if we reach we think we can fight for the championship. We haven’t reached those targets yet, but with some work we will do.

    “We had, by anyone’s standards, let alone McLaren’s standards, an abysmal testing period last year. I would be happier not to fight those issues, and we have put a lot of work into this car and we are not expecting a repeat of last winter.

    “I don’t believe we have been inherently conservative. Inevitably there are creative brains seeking to find a Eureka moment that will bring seconds of performance, but sadly in F1 those moments are limited.”

    Whitmarsh also admitted that, like most teams, McLaren still has a lot to add to the car between its launch spec and the version that will hit the track in Australia for the season opener.

    “All teams will develop the cars so the car unveiled as they pull the cloth back is not the car being used in Q1 in Australia,” he said. “There will be great evolution in some teams.

    “We have set targets that are tough. It is not just about testing or the first race, you have to improve the car through every single race if you want to win the championship. Providing we have a good car at the start of the season then we should do well.”


  4. The Woking-based team has commented on the idea of developing its own engine in the near future. has the details.

    McLaren has no plans to develop its own Formula 1 engine or switch from Mercedes-Benz powerplants, according to team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

    The British team’s engine supply has been the subject of speculation since the latter part of the 2011 campaign, with rumours suggesting that McLaren could reunite with Honda or even build its own motor to promote its growing road car business.

    But Whitmarsh, speaking at the launch of the new MP4-27 F1 car, ruled out a change of supplier, or going down the route of Ferrari and taking engine development in-house.

    “Formula 1 is a very, very powerful environment to promote an automotive brand and get brand definition,” said Whitmarsh. “But we have no plans – short term, medium term or longer term – to manufacture our own engines.

    “We have great respect for what Ferrari have achieved, but we will do things our own way. People will speculate because of our road car programme but it makes no sense for us.

    “We have had a great partner for 18 years with Mercedes-Benz, they make probably the best engine in F1.

    “The motivation to change is very limited. We enjoy that partnership and intend to continue for a number of years.”

  5. New sporting director Sam Michael says McLaren synergy is strength in depth. has the story.

    Sam Michael believes McLaren’s strength in depth is one of the keys to having been so successful in Formula 1 over the years.

    Michael, a former technical director at Williams, left the British squad at the end of last year to join McLaren as sporting director.

    He says he is already feeling at home with McLaren, and admits working with the team has been made easier because of its synergy.

    “I am really proud to be working for McLaren even though I haven’t been here long,” Michael said during the launch of the MP4-27.

    “It is a big family. There are a lot of people here taking good care of relationships, and it makes a big difference in a high pressure environment. More than I expected and it helps you perform.

    “One of the drivers used a buzzword, that the synergy of this place is strength in depth. It is bigger strength of this company.

    “This strength in depth is not something you buy of shop-floor. It’s not like a seven-post rig you can go buy, install and catch up. It is instilled over years, it is ingrained in the company. It is rewarding working around it.”

    Michael said McLaren is already a well-oiled machine and conceded he hasn’t been able to influence the new car much since his arrival.

    “I work with the senior management group, my main focus in that group is trackside, sorting out the race team. It’s already a very refined machine. It’s all about trying to create a new benchmark, work car quality, operational reliability…

    “It is early days. I came in at the end of last year and a lot of the car – 90 per cent of it – was already designed. There is different aspects to the way we go racing and had quite a lot of involvement.”

  6. McLaren says its new MP4-27 is a ‘complete rework’ of last year’s car – despite its outward appearance pointing to it being an evolution of its 2011 contender.

    After the covers came off the new car at McLaren’s Woking factory on Wednesday, the main focus points of the MP4-27 were a nose step that was less extreme than some had expected, and the positioning of the exhausts.

    Tim Goss, McLaren’s director of engineering, said that although outwardly the car was an evolution of the MP4-26, it was in fact totally different under the skin.

    “We have set ourselves tough and ambitious targets, and we aim to deliver those by the first race and have a championship-winning car,” explained Goss. “This car is a complete rework from nose to tail, and there is very little that is carried over. A bit of the fuel system is the same, but almost everything else on the car has changed.

    “There were a few features we have pushed quite hard from the beginning of the project. I am proud of the whole team and the efforts so far, and from now we go to the next phase of the project which is really wringing the performance out of it. We have a good track record of that – we have big plans, upgrades for the front wing, rear wing, floor and bodywork are already planned.”

    Technical director Paddy Lowe said that the nature of modern regulations makes it difficult for teams to deliver innovation – but that did not stop his outfit believing it had made a good performance step with the car.

    “The regulations are trimming us into narrower and narrower boxes,” he said. “We don’t see big radical changes from one year to the next year.

    “This car looks very similar but underneath a great deal of changes have taken place. Every part has been assessed for weight and performance. If you add all that up, you get a car that is quicker. Teams are tasked to find that 1% to 2% performance improvement – but nevertheless there are obvious innovations.

    “We have done a lot of work around the back end, and there is a lot more tidy packaging there, and we have had to do a lot of work on exhausts. That has given the aerodynamicists a great challenge, not only to find the downforce but also in creating the right balance. You need downforce but also you have to be able to use it in the right area.”

    McLaren has moved away from the U-shaped sidepods that it ran last year, because the downwash advantage created by that design is no longer relevant now that blown diffusers have been banned.

    Lowe also explained that the outfit never bothered investigating the reactive ride height system being pursued by Lotus and Ferrari and which was outlawed recently by the FIA.

    “That was in a family of designs that we have considered often in the past, but in our assessment we would not consider that to be legal,” he said. “So we did not get involved in what was being done.

    “Our view was that it was not something we would pursue, so it was pleasing to see that avenue shut down according to our interpretation.”


  7. I’ve not liked a McLaren car and this year’s edition is no different. I really don’t like the squared nose of the Force India and Ferrari.

    Can’t wait to see what this can do on the track.

    In the face of the Sky competition, it looks like the BBC are going technical as I would think Sky are going for pizzazz by getting us F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson. In this video, he tells the resigning behind the cars design.

    Very good video, however, he doesn’t seem very impressed by the new design. Going from what he said, McLaren don’t seem to of left themselves much room for improving. Not a bad thing if the car doesn’t need improving, but by all accounts, it’s looks over function for now.

    Things can change and I’m sure the McLaren shown is not it’s final design. But if what Gary Anderson is true and this is the final product, are could be looking at another slow start for the silver arrows.

  8. Thanks for the video link invisiblekid. It’s great to hear the opinion from Gary Anderson, an experience Formula One designer, who knows a thing or two about technical changes to a modern racing car. His knowledge will play a major strength to the BBC’s coverage this season.

    It’s going to be interesting during the first official testing next week at Jerez to see if these ‘ugly’ cars will be fast against the stopwatch. So far, many fans and the media are not impressed by the FIA rules to lower the nose for safety reason as it spoils the look of these Formula One cars.

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