McLaren has become the second Formula 1 team to take the wraps off its 2012 challenger, giving media figures and dignitaries a first look at its Mercedes-powered MP4-27 in a launch at the team’s Woking factory on Wednesday.
With drivers Jenson Button ands Lewis Hamilton – along with reserves Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey – doing the honours, the covers were taken off the new car, which the team hopes will take it to the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship crowns.
To the relief of many in attendance – and no doubt many fans around the world – the MP4-27 doesn’t feature the hideous ‘platypus’ nose that was on display on the first car launched this season, Caterham’s CT01.
While the MP4-27 bare many resemblances to its predecessor, the MP4-26, closer inspection reveals many subtle changes to help the team claw back much of the downforce it would have lost under this year’s revised regulations, which have taken away much of the influence of under-car downforce.
The most obvious changes were the tightly-waisted rear bodywork and changes to the cooling system in line with the championship’s new exhaust regulations, which require exhaust gases to exist via the upper bodywork now that the ‘blown diffuser’ has been banned.
This necessitated a change to the car’s sidepods, with the MP4-27 abandoning the U-shaped radiator intakes that were run on its predecessor.
“I’m very excited,” Button said at the launch. “This is the moment we see how hard we have all been working. It’s a very exciting day.
“These guys have been flat out since we finished racing in 2011 on improving the car as much as they could in the simulator and I’m looking forward to getting out in it at Jerez.
“I am sure everyone is apprehensive when you start testing and I cannot wait to jump in the car.”
“I think it is fantastic,” added Hamilton. “It’s great to be here after a great winter. Seeing hard work going into building this car is inspiring. It is the most refined-looking car we have had for some time so we are looking forward to getting back in it.”
[Original images via LAT, McLaren Media and Sutton Images]