The new MP4-28 from McLaren

Button and Perez McLaren 2013

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes became the second Formula 1 team to unveil its 2013 challenger with a public launch at the McLaren Technology Centre.

The Woking-based squad finished last season’s 20-race campaign in third position in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari, even though the team scored as many victories as the world champions.

It may had been the quickest car in 2012 but the lack of reliability played its part that cost the opportunity for both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button the drivers’ title.

Hopefully the MP4-28 has stamped out these reliability issues and with a new driver line-up in the shape of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez (who joins from Sauber) for 2013, McLaren hopes it can challenge for the championship in the upcoming Formula One season.

McLaren MP4-28 Woking

“With Jenson and Checo, and this fantastic-looking new car, I believe we’re extremely well prepared for another competitive season,” said team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

“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.”

McLaren MP4-28 side

I must admit the new McLaren looks very similar to last season’s MP4-27 and yet the 2009 world champion insists that the MP4-28 has gone through enormous changes in the design.

“It is exactly the same colour scheme and I think it looks similar to last year, but it is completely different to last year under the skin,” he said.

“We know the regulations haven’t changed much since 2012 but it’s enough to make a difference.”

Let’s hope the difference is more than skin deep once the MP4-28 hits the track during the first week of testing at Jerez.

Watch the build-up to the launch of the new car including classic McLarens like the the M8D Can-Am sportscar, the 1974 M23, the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR and the MP4-13 from 1998.

Lotus unveils the new E21 online

E21 front 2013

Lotus F1 Team became the first outfit to unveil their 2013 race car for the upcoming Formula 1 season.

The E21 was revealed to the public via a live video broadcast on the team’s official YouTube channel, with an estimated 12,000+ viewers keenly excited to see the new car.

It must be said that the new E21 looks very similar to last year’s car, it even has the stepped nose! Although a splash of red indicating the new sponsors against the black and gold livery works quite well in my opinion.

Lotus F1 Team 2013 Launch Photoshoot

Technical director James Allison said that while the E21 looked outwardly similar to its predecessor, it had undergone plenty of changes.

“There is a lot gone into it and it is going to be an exciting car,” he said. “The rules for 2013 are very, very similar to 2012 so you can expect a lot of family resemblance from the 2012 car, but the devil is in the detail and it adds up to a significant amount of performance.

“There are lots of new ideas and same concepts we have been pushing on with for a few years.”

Team principal Eric Boullier hopes the E21 will bring success in this season’s campaign with the squad aiming a target in finishing the constructors’ championship in the top three.

Lotus have retained the 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean for this season’s world championship and the pair will start their second year as team-mates.

Also unchanged is the team’s engine supplier Renault. This is the second car produced by the team since become the works Lotus outfit in 2012.

E21 rear 2013

The E21 chassis name signifies the outfit’s twenty-first car produced by the Enstone team after racing in four different identities over the last couple of decades: Toleman, Benetton, Renault and Lotus.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how well the new Lotus E21 goes in pre-season testing in Spain. Will we see another race victory for Kimi Raikkonen after winning in Abu Dhabi last year?

As for Romain Grosjean, he has been given a second opportunity in Formula One despite his countless first-lap crashing including that massive startline pile-up at Spa-Francorchamps that earned him a race ban.

Close-up on the new Lotus E21 video:

Django Unchained review

Django Unchained film

Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film Django Unchained is quite simply off the chain if you pardon the pun!

A brutal, bloody, terrifying, hilarious and breathtaking film inspired by both the Django spaghetti western series starring Franco Nero (who makes a cameo) and Richard Fleischer’s 1975 exploitation flick Mandingo, about a slave trained to fight other slaves.

Set two years before the Civil War, the film stars Christoph Waltz as German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, who frees Jamie Foxx’s slave character Django in return for his help in tracking down three outlaw brothers.

Along the way, Django proves to have something of a knack for bounty hunting, so he trains under Schultz and the pair become both friends and partners.

And when Django learns that his wife Broomhilda (the beautiful Kerry Washington) is a slave on a plantation belonging to sadistic owner Calvin Candie (played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio), he and Schultz set out to rescue her, posing as fight experts interested in Candie’s Mandingo ring.

Just like Tarantino’s previous film Inglourious Basterds, Waltz’s Germanic delivery and measured manner steals every scene thanks to his terrific performance as Schultz that makes it so much fun to enjoy.

Equally impressive is DiCaprio, who seems to be enjoying the role of being a spiteful, pipe smoking bully. His performance is both awe-inspiring and yet terrifying. The scene at the dinner table while delivering the classic QT monologue is pure masterclass.

Making his sixth appearance in a Tarantino film is the superb Samuel L. Jackson as the head house-slave Stephen. Although it comes to a bit of a shock in how many times he says the “N” word…

To be honest, Django Unchained is not a film for the squeamish. As it features over-the-top violence including the gunfight sequence involving explosively splattering of blood.

And yet the script makes it so enjoyable to watch with great lines packed full of surprises with moments that will have you laughing out loud and gasping in shock, often simultaneously.

So a great film overall? Well, I have to admit there are some weak parts in Django Unchained and ironically this falls to Jamie Foxx.

The actor has the physical presence, that is undeniable, and as Django he certainly looks the part. Yet he never feels entirely right, as the gritty, gun-slinging hero or rather, sounds right.

Foxx is gifted with a soft, musical voice, but it jars against Django’s terse deliveries. “I like the way you die, boy,” should sound menacing and yet from Foxx, it lacks impact.

The other big problem is the running time, at 168 minutes the film is just too damn long and the middle segment drags considerably. In addition, Kerry Washington‘s part is badly underwritten (less than ten lines!), so there’s no chemistry at all between her and Foxx.

While Tarantino’s time-honoured atrocious cameo (as an Australian mining company employee) is so out of place and seriously undermines the final act of the film.

Despite these flaws, Django Unchained is a stylishly directed, superbly written and brilliantly acted spaghetti western pastiche that delivers shocks, laughs and thrills in equal measure. The soundtrack is also great too. Tarantino is back to his best!