After a difficult and challenging season for McLaren-Mercedes in 2013, the Woking-based team needs to deliver in terms of big results and their new MP4-29, launched online, certainly looks the business.
With Force India, Williams and Lotus revealing their cars as an computer-generated image, McLaren’s launch marked the first proper look at the new rules design.
The MP4-29 features that much anticipated take on the controversial nose design that teams have leaned to under the new regulations, with a narrow protruding section to meet the revised crash test rules without lowering the entire front end as the rule makers originally envisaged.
“We’ve never had such significant new regulations before,” said McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale. “Reacting to them, and managing those changes, while still pushing the performance limits, has been an extremely tough job.”
Neale mentioned that the team have taken a ‘pragmatic’ approach to the new regulations.
“We know that the need for consistency initially outweighs the need for performance – the winter tests won’t be about chasing set-up or refining the car; the envelope of performance is likely to be so wide, and so relatively unknown, that the winter – and to some extent the opening races – will be about understanding the operational boundaries of the car as best we can.”
“This year, more than ever, will come down to a development race,” he added. “I don’t necessarily think you can expect the car that wins the opening race to be the car that leads the championship charge, something we’ve often seen in the past.”
“No, it will be all about a team’s ability to react and respond. We already have an update package that we’re readying for race one, and we’re discovering new things in the [wind] tunnel, or in CFD, all the time. Once we start track testing, I think you’ll see an intense throughput of ideas and concepts – that’s the nitty-gritty that will win or lose the world championship.”
The MP4-29 was unveiled in a plain silver livery with basic MP4-29 branding. Hopefully some sponsors will make an appearance on the car after many seasons running the Vodafone branding.
In terms of driver line-up, Jenson Button will lead the McLaren this season and he will be joined by Formula 1 rookie Kevin Magnussen. The team’s third race driver is rising star Stoffel Vandoorne.