McLaren has become the third Formula 1 team to launch its 2014 race car and the first to show shots of its actual car.
While both Force India and Williams both revealed computer-generated images of their respective cars earlier this week, Mclaren is the first manufacturer to show its definitive race car when the team launched the MP4-29 today. This will be the final Mercedes-powered McLaren Formula 1 car with the team making the switch to Honda engines as of 2015.
How the new car will perform will be interesting to see considering the sub-par performance from McLaren in 2013. With no podium finishes for the Woking-base team, the manufacturer moved resources into developing the new 2014 race car far earlier than previous years.
McLaren has said they have “responded to the disappointment of our 2013 season by pragmatically framing our approach to the technical challenge. The new MP4-29, revealed today, is a sensible and calculated response to the new regulations.” The manufacturer also said the car was likely to “undergo more technical change throughout a single season than any other car” in the team’s extensive history.
The FIA has changed the 2.4-litre V8 engines, used in last years season, to 1.6 litre V6 turbo engines including energy recovery systems and containing fuel flow restrictions, in order to make Formula One more environmentally aware and to attract more commercial partners for 2014. The engines would also be limited to 15,000 rpm.
Of the current suppliers, only Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will be producing engines to the new formula. Honda is set to return in 2015 with their own engine, partnering McLaren who will use Mercedes power for the 2014 season.
The new formula is set to reintroduce turbocharged engines, which last appeared in 1998, and have their efficiency improved by turbo-compounding and introduce more energy recovery systems – with power to be harvested from the brakes and exhaust gases.
The original proposal for four-cylinder turbocharged engines was not welcomed by the racing teams, in particular Ferrari. Adrian Newey stated during the 2011 European Grand Prix that the change to a V6 enables teams to carry the engine as a stressed member, whereas an inline 4 would have required a space frame. A compromise was reached to adopt V6 turbocharged engines instead.
McLaren Racing managing director Jonathan Neale said: “We’ve never had such significant new regulations before; reacting to them, and managing those changes, while still pushing the performance limits, has been an extremely tough job.
“We’ve been relatively pragmatic about it. 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.
“To achieve this, we need a consistent platform – one that responds positively to changes. Moreover, the work of the engineers and designers to understand and interpret trackside data will be more important than before. That’s because this year, more than ever, will come down to a development race: 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.