McLaren Launches MP4-27 Challenger In England

WOKING, England- Following a quick surge at the end of the previous season with six victories in tow, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes launched their MP4 -27 car Wednesday morning at the McLaren Technology Center.

The team managed to take the runner up spot in the constructor’s championship, but was far away from the champion Red Bull team. Nevertheless, team manager Martin Whitmarsh feels that this new car will make the season smoother than it was in 2011, and close the gap on the Austrian sponsored team.

“You really won’t know until qualifying in Australia,” remarked Whitmarsh about the first race of the season. “Through the practice and testing programs, we have ahead of us well make advances on a whole range of areas. We had, by anyone’s standards, let alone McLaren’s standards, an abysmal testing period last year, where we didn’t have reliability or pace. It was a fantastic effort by the team and its engineers for us to arrive in Australia in a reasonably competitive position, which I think surprised a lot of people. But it was a stressful process and I’d be much happier to not be fighting those sort of issues and we have put a lot of effort into this car so that we won’t be in that position again.”

Although Whitmarsh had a lot to say and got to the point of what really hurt the team, Lewis Hamilton might be the hungriest person on the squad. The Englishman did manage to savor three victories last year, but was troubled by personal issues before coming around again with a victory in Abu Dhabi. But as Hamilton looked at the new design, he admitted that the rear end was to change because of the recent ban of exhaust blown diffusers.

“It is much trickier to drive as it is right now,” stated Hamilton. “But as we get closer to the season, I’m sure we’ll find where that downforce will come from.”

In comparison to the Caterham F1 team’s front wing, which was introduced a few days ago, the McLaren version is quite different looking, with a gradual transition between lower nose and chassis. The sidepods have now been redesigned and the car features a more cleanly looking rear end.

With just as many victories as his teammate and second place in the drivers’ championship last year, fellow Brit Jenson Button is looking forward to giving Hamilton a run for his money.

“With the regulations remaining relatively stable, we’ve really been able to focus on the detail with this year’s car,” Button said. “I still think we had a very fast package last year – it was very strong in certain areas – and our race pace was almost always fantastic, but we’re hoping for a further step forwards in 2012. With Mercedes-Benz, I think we also had the best overall engine and KERS Hybrid package in the pit lane.

“We were also able to continuously develop throughout the year to match Red Bull – and that shows that we have the knowledge, effort and resources to sustain our efforts across the course of a whole season, which can be crucial. I know that the whole team is extremely proud of the MP4-27. It may look like a direct evolution of last year’s car, but we’ve analyzed every area of performance over the winter and the whole car has benefited from lots of fresh thinking and new ideas in every area.”

Just ahead of its track debut at Jerez, Spain next week, tester Oliver Turvey will be doing a straight line test before Button takes over on the Spanish track for two days, with Hamilton concluding the remainder of the test.

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