McLarenâ€™s technical team say that the major focus of aero work this winter was to optimize airflow to rear wing in order to help make up for the double diffuser ban.
The sidepods and cooling arrangement of the new car are the most intriguing features. It remains to be seen whether the front of the sidepods reflects an intention to add a Renault-style exhaust exit in the coming weeks.
â€śI think there are some novel features on the car â€“ the long wheelbase and U-shaped sidepods are probably the most obvious examples,â€ť says engineering director Tim Goss. â€śThe thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower mainplane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double-diffuser.
â€śFor 2011, KERS is now a single integrated unit that sits within the survival cell, beneath the fuel-tank. In 2009, it was housed in the sidepods. The hybridâ€™s cooling intake sits directly below the main roll hoop intake. And, once again, weâ€™ve really pushed the carâ€™s cooling configuration: weâ€™ve got a second air intake on the engine cover for gearbox and hydraulic cooling.â€ť
Regarding the biggest challenges of 2011, Goss says: â€śFor me, there have been two: recovering the rear downforce we lost following the banning of the double-diffuser, and fully exploiting the Pirelli tires. The tires only last for around 10 laps, and making them last longer is quite a challenge. So we need to look closely at how we configure the set-up and suspension to make the tires last.
â€śWe set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011. We always want to do more and weâ€™re always very critical about performance, but we feel weâ€™ve done a good job. Weâ€™ve identified some areas where we can add performance to the car â€“ over the next weeks, the task will be to get them on to the car and reliable by the first race. Thatâ€™s the big challenge.â€ť
Technical director Paddy Lowe says that the team has worked with Mercedes GP to get the ideal KERS packaging.
â€śGetting KERS back on the car was a big task,â€ť says Lowe. â€śCollaborating with Mercedes GP to define the specification for Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines was very satisfying: there was great collaboration and co-operation between us. There can be lots of difficulties finding alignment between two teams, but Iâ€™m pleased with how we made it happen and very happy with the outcome.â€ť
â€śThe system was also more difficult to package because youâ€™ve got to carry more fuel,â€ť said Goss. â€śThat was the first challenge, but we got through that. There were a few difficult decisions concerning architecture around different aerodynamic concepts, but I think we ended up with a design layout weâ€™re happy with.â€ť
Driver Jenson Button had this to say: "Now I really feel I know how Vodafone McLaren Mercedes goes racing, and Iâ€™ll be driving a car thatâ€™s been fully developed around Lewis and myself â€“ thatâ€™s a very empowering feeling. Iâ€™m really looking forward to getting to drive the new car for the first time. Our pre-season simulations suggests that the new Pirelli tires should be well-suited to my particular driving style, so Iâ€™m hopeful of being able to derive a good advantage from the tires during the races.
"Today really marks the beginning of our 2011 season after what seems a very long time away from the track. Itâ€™s been a really exciting event for all the fans who attended, and now I canâ€™t wait to get behind the wheel of MP4-26 for the first time next week."
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is looking ahead to the 2011 season with optimism, following the outfitâ€™s launch of its new MP4-26 challenger in Berlin on Friday. After failing to capture both of the titles on offer last year, Whitmarsh was positive of a better campaign this year. After the launch at midday German time, the 52-year-old explained how important it was for the team to open the world of Formula 1 up to supporters around the globe.
"I think todayâ€™s innovative launch demonstrates the enthusiasm within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to engage the general public; to show them that our sport is intense and exciting, and that weâ€™re very keen to showcase Formula 1 to the wider world," Whitmarsh commented.
"With Lewis and Jenson, we have two of the most exciting, charismatic and high-profile personalities in the sport, and the whole team feels a powerful sense of responsibility to provide them with the very best machinery with which to showcase their very evident talents to the world.
Whitmarsh went on to talk about the MP4-26 in detail, with the new car featuring some unique design changes. The teamâ€™s 2011 contender was presented at Berlinâ€™s Potsdamer Platz, with radical aspects being unveiled to the public, most notably the uniquely shaped sidepod inlets, amongst further developments over its 2010 predecessor.
"The MP4-26 is the result of an incredible amount of hard work, innovative thinking and dynamic teamwork," The McLaren man stated. "Under the leadership of Paddy Lowe [technical director], Tim Goss [engineering director] and Neil Oatley [director of design and development programs], our design department is more integrated than ever: in fact, Iâ€™m particularly proud of the contributions made by our project engineers, many of whom have taken on leadership roles for the very first time and who had worked so well together to create this very striking and individual-looking car.
"While weâ€™re all hopeful of once more adding to our tremendous record in Formula 1, this sport is so unpredictable and finely pitched at the moment that itâ€™s impossible accurately to forecast the state of play until the season starts next month. Thatâ€™s a tantalizing prospect for Formula 1â€™s many millions of existing fans â€“ and, I hope, something that will attract many millions more by the end of what looks set to be an absolutely fantastic year."
Technical specifications of the McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 which was unveiled today at a public launch in Berlin. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will campaign the car for the Woking based team.
|Monocoque||McLaren-molded carbon fiber composite incorporating front and side impact structures|
|Front suspension||Inboard torsion bar/damper system operated by pushrod and bell crank with a double wishbone arrangement|
|Rear suspension||Inboard torsion bar/damper system operated by pullrod and bell crank with a double wishbone arrangement|
|Electronics||Including chassis control, engine control, data acquisition, dashboard, alternator, sensors, data analysis and telemetry.|
||Carbon-fiber composite. Separate engine cover, sidepods and floor. Structural nose with integral front wing Driver-operated drag reduction system [active rear wing|
|Tires||Pirelli P Zero|
|Batteries||GS Yuasa Corporation|
|Instruments||McLaren Electronic Systems|
|Paint solutions||AkzoNobel Car Refinishes using Sikkens Products|
|Type||Mercedes-Benz FO 108Y|
|Piston bore max||98mm|
|Number of valves||32|
|Fuel||ExxonMobil High Performance Unleaded (5.75% bio fuel)|
||NGK racing spark plugs specially designed for Mercedes-Benz F1 engine|
||Mobil 1 â€“ combining greater performance, protection and cooling with increased economy and lower emissions|
|Weight||95kg (minimum FIA regulation weight)|
|e-Motor||Engine-mounted electrical motor/generator|
|ESS||Integrated energy storage cells and power electronics|
||McLaren-molded carbon-fiber composite. Integral rear impact structure|
|Gears||Seven forward and one reverse|
|Gear selection||McLaren seamless shift, hand-operated|