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.

7 thoughts to “The new MP4-28 from McLaren”

  1. Why evolution was no option for McLaren – analysis:

    McLaren may have raised some eyebrows with the step change in its car design for this season, but technical chiefs are adamant it was an essential move if it is to gun for Formula 1 title glory this year.

    With the rules not changing dramatically for 2013, and teams already devoting much resource to the radical 2014 overhaul, it had been widely expected that the new cars would be mere evolutions of last year’s designs.

    McLaren has gone much further than that, however. It was reworked its concept in a wide range of areas, including switching to pull-rod suspension, increasing the height of its chassis so it now needs a ‘vanity’ panel’ for a stepped nose, and being ultra-aggressive with the bodywork around the rear.

    Although such work may be a bold move with 2014 on the horizon, the team has said that such an effort was vital if the team was to be able to keep up a good enough development rate throughout the forthcoming campaign.

    When asked by AUTOSPORT about the thinking behind such an aggressive push with its car, McLaren engineering director Tim Goss said that there was a fear last year’s MP4-27 concept was reaching a development ceiling.

    “We looked at our performance during last season, in the stages where we were laying down the foundations of this car, and looked at where we thought we would get to in terms of our development rate if we just kept continuing with developing the same car,” he said. “We realised we actually needed to make a larger step.

    “So in defining the architecture of this car, the philosophy was very much to give ourselves the scope to further exploit the area of the cars that we knew would generate performance.

    “We understand how to get the most out of these rules, and we demonstrated that last season under these rules with the quickest car at the beginning of the year and the end of the year.

    “But, we decided that we need to give ourselves a bit more freedom and, as a result of that, we have reworked the car from front to back. That has allowed us that bit more freedom to push the areas of the car that we know respond.”

    One of the boldest departures for McLaren is in switching from a push-rod to pull-rod layout with its front suspension, a route that Ferrari went down last season.

    Goss insisted that its change was not simply the result of it copying Ferrari’s lead, but of doing a lot of work into evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of such a design.

    “What convinced us was actually a lot of research,” he said. “When you see something new on a car, you always think, why have they done that?

    “In F1, it is possible to copy someone else’s concept, but invariably they don’t work. What you have to do is get a fundamental understanding of why.

    “So we looked at it and initially we thought exactly that – why? But after some time and some work we understood how it could benefit our car and certainly what we are trying to achieve with the car.

    “We found benefits in terms of aerodynamics, which overcome the kinematic and structural negatives of doing more extreme anhedral suspension.”

    One area where McLaren has stuck to its guns, however, is in its exhaust concept, which is a different solution to the Red Bull style.

    This year, McLaren has pushed things much further, dramatically cutting away the bodywork at the rear of the car to try and optimise airflow for both car performance and exhausts.

    “It is playing the tunes on the aerodynamics,” said Goss. “While trying to achieve one thing with the exhaust, you have to make sure when the exhaust gases are not flowing that the rear end of the car is still performing properly.

    “So we have pushed things further. That is our philosophy on this car – to take the things where we know the car responds, push them further and make them more extreme. For us, it was a natural evolution of last year.”

  2. Jenson Button believes his issues with qualifying pace will be solved for 2013 with the change in Pirelli tyre specification.

    The 2009 world champion has only taken one pole position in his three years at McLaren so far.

    With Lewis Hamilton leaving for Mercedes and his replacement Sergio Perez also carrying a reputation for mediocre qualifying results, there have been fears that McLaren will struggle in this season’s Formula 1 pole battles.

    But Button is confident that the latest Pirelli tyres will end the problems he had with single-lap performance last year.

    “Qualifying at times last year was not good at all,” Button acknowledged. “I still go back to it being the issue that I have had in my career in terms of getting my tyres working and in the working range.

    “I don’t know why that is – I must drive differently to everyone else on the grid. We have learned a lot from last season and we have made steps forward.

    “We also have a tyre in 2013 that does help me. It has a much wider working range so I am not fearful of those issues again.

    “We start the season with a clean slate and fighting for pole position at each race and fighting for a win at each race.”

    Button also feels he has been able to lead McLaren’s development direction towards his driving style this season.

    “The feelings I got last year and the development curve and direction we went in last year is good for my style,” he said.

    “I had some issues through the season and the great thing with McLaren is they listen to what drivers say.”


  3. New McLaren signing Sergio Perez hails 2013 preparations. has the news story.

    Sergio Perez believes he is very well prepared for the start of the 2013 season after working with his new McLaren team during the winter.

    The Mexican is joining the British squad after two years at Sauber, and will partner Jenson Button during the upcoming season after replacing Lewis Hamilton.

    Speaking during the launch of the new MP4-28, Perez hailed the preparation work he has gone through since he joined McLaren, saying he has never been fitter in his life.

    “We have done an incredible job to prepare ourselves,” said Perez. “I have never been this fit and still have one month to go, so I am enthusiastic.

    “When I come here, I work through like Ayrton [Senna], my idol, so it is a very good motivation.”

    Perez said he has already spent a significant amount of time working with McLaren’s simulator before taking to the track at Jerez next week.

    “So far I have done more or less 15-20 days in the simulator. Obviously I am not very used to a simulator. It’s the first time that I have worked so much with one and it has been good and I am really getting used to the car.

    “The feeling is quite different. It’s not so easy to feel the car in the simulator. I have done good improvements in terms of understanding the simulator and understanding the [set-up] changes.

    “The most important thing for me is to understand car and understand what issues I might have when we get to testing and racing.”

    The McLaren driver admitted it was hard to judge how competitive McLaren will be until it gets to the first race in Australia.

    “There are no guarantees. I haven’t tried the McLaren yet,” he said. “The most important thing is to maximise our potential, maximise our understanding.

    “It will be difficult in winter testing to have an understanding, but once we get to Melbourne when it is hot we will have a better idea of the tyres.”

  4. The McLaren MP4-28 won’t race the passive double DRS system in this season’s Formula 1 World Championship. has the details.

    McLaren has ruled out racing a passive double DRS for the time being, because it believes bigger performance gains can be made elsewhere on the car.

    With Lotus having confirmed earlier this week that it hopes to race its passive double DRS this season, it had been expected that a majority of frontrunning outfits would pursue the concept for 2013.

    But speaking at the launch of the new McLaren MP4-28 at Woking on Thursday, McLaren technical staff reckoned that difficulties in getting a passive double DRS to work effectively had left it reluctant to devote much time to it.

    When asked by AUTOSPORT if McLaren was pursuing it, director of engineering Tim Goss said: “We’ve been looking at such systems for a couple of seasons now and, as you have seen, we haven’t run one yet – so heavily pursuing it would not be the right description.

    “It is not straightforward to get them to work effectively such that they give you a net performance gain.

    “There are parasitic losses in doing such systems and, as you will notice, there are three teams that tested them last season and no one actually raced one.”

    McLaren sporting director Sam Michael said it was the difficulty in getting the system to operate reliably, especially the speed at which the fluidic switches are turned on and off to change airflow to help stall the rear wing, that was the key factor in his team steering clear for now.

    “They are extremely sensitive and difficult to make work,” he said. “It is definitely an area that will, in time, become more and more exploited. But we are right at the beginning of it – and there are other bigger gains and bigger fish to fry before that one.”

    As well as pursuing a different path from Lotus on the passive double DRS, McLaren has elected to race with a ‘vanity panel’ covering a stepped nose on its 2013 car.

    Goss was adamant that smoothing the airflow in that area of the car was more of an advantage than the disadvantage of extra weight on the car, which is why Lotus has opted not to race it.

    “Aerodynamically you would not put a step on the top surface of the nose through choice, it is an artifact of the regulations,” said Goss. “So we don’t…

    “It is a lightweight structural cover. There is no structural significance at all, so it weighs very little.

    “I think James [Allison, Lotus technical director] left it quite open as to whether they would do something.

    “If we look aerodynamically at the step on the nose then, to be honest, it is not very significant but you will pull a few minor losses off it. You would not do it [have a stepped nose] out of choice, so we don’t.”

  5. McLaren’s MP4-28 is an ‘ambitious’ concept with great development potential, according to the team’s managing director Jonathan Neale.

    The new car was unveiled at the team’s headquarters on Thursday morning.

    Neale said McLaren had deliberately chosen to try new avenues with its suspension and exhaust even though an evolutionary design was an option with the regulations broadly unchanged for 2013.

    “When you have small regulation changes, do you do something conservative or do something more ambitious?” he said.

    “On this occasion we have chosen to be more ambitious.

    “We believe that rather than run out of gas in the middle of the season it gives us more development potential.”

    Team boss Martin Whitmarsh is confident that McLaren will start 2013 in even stronger shape than it ended last year, when it won the final two grands prix in America and Brazil.

    “We finished last year with undoubtedly the quickest car,” he said.

    “We could have continued to develop that car and found some performance.

    “In changing things you inevitably step back, but this car is already quicker than the car we finished last year with. In all that we are looking at, this car is responding very well.

    “We had a detailed technical review yesterday and you cannot help coming out of this thinking we have a competitive car.

    “Our competitors are off the radar screen and you cannot rule out them having a Eureka moment, but we are pleased with where we are with this car today and this car will look different before the season.”


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