McLaren has become the first team to officially take the covers off the car it will use to compete in the 2014 Formula 1 season. In a media launch event at its Woking-based Technology Centre, the Mercedes-powered MP4-29 was shown off to the world.
While Force India and Williams had both jumped the gun with the release of rendered images of their respective cars, McLaren is the first to do so in the flesh, giving us a true insight into the radical design differences we can expect for the entire field this year.
Once again – as was the case with Williams’ FW36 – the most notable characteristic was its ‘proboscis’ nose, an obviously ugly and already controversial design feature brought about by the FIA’s poorly-worded regulations requiring the nose height to be reduced from 550mm above the ground to 185mm this year.
While he may have recently taken back control of his Formula 1 team, CEO Ron Dennis kept a fairly low profile, leaving much of the PR duties to the team’s Managing Director, Jonathan Neale and Sam Michael, the team’s Sporting Director.
“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,” Neale said of the MP4-29.
“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.”
With this being the twentieth and final year of its partnership with Mercedes (before returning to Honda), the 2014 season will be something of a transitory year for the team. However, a return to the winners’ circle remains very much in focus, as Sam Michael added:
“We have Honda waiting in the wings, we have a number of key technical staff bolstering our existing design and engineering teams, and we are fostering the careers of our young drivers, all of whom have an incredible amount of potential. The future for McLaren is bright, and we’re now putting in place the processes that will move us closer to our goals.
“For 2014, our aim is for continuous development; we’ll be refining and strengthening the car and the organisation throughout the year, so you’ll see a rapid turnover of parts and ideas on the car as we, like every team, wrestle with the many unique challenges of these new regulations.”
The team also has a partially-revamped driver line-up, with Kevin Magnussen making his Grand Prix debut with the team alongside Jenson Button – it marks the first time since 2007 that the team has run an F1 debutante.
“I really think the beauty of our driver line-up comes from its strength and structure through sheer contrast,” Neale added.
“In Jenson, we have Formula 1’s unofficial ambassador, somebody who provides us with an unprecedented databank of experience; we can really work with him as we learn together how to develop and refine this year’s car.
“In Kevin, I see a raw, unfettered enthusiasm and a fearsome work ethic. His arrival has been a terrific motivator for the entire team, and I’ve been really pleased and impressed by the way he’s thrown himself into the process. While he’ll naturally need time to acclimatise, we’re undoubtedly of the opinion that he’s ready for F1.”
Having already confirmed that it would not announce
Sony a new title sponsor or its new management structure at the launch, the MP4-29 was showcased in a Mercedes-esque chrome colour scheme, with the chassis name emblazoned on the sections of the car where new sponsor stickers could eventually be housed.
images and video via McLaren