On Wednesday, McLaren F1 released their 2012 MP4-27 challenger to the public. McLaren finished the 2011 season in a distant second place, but were arguably the only team that were ever able to compete with Red Bull this year. The team fought hard for six fantastic victories, and one pole position. Jenson Button had what was arguably the most impressive year of his career, with fantastic drives in Japan and Canada. Hamilton, on the other hand, had what some are calling the worst year of his career so far, with several instances where Lewis seemed to be out of sync, causing accidents with other drivers numerous times. Despite his controversial aggression this season, he still managed three victories and finished the championship in fifth place. In 2012, he will be more motivated than ever to show he can fight for the top spot in the championship.
Below are pictures of their 2012 challenger:
From this frontal view of the MP4-27, we can see clearly that McLaren have changed the design of their nose, and most noticeably, their sidepods. The front nose is lower than it was last year, and seems to be more similar to the nose of the MP4-24 than the MP4-25 of 2011. This is due to the new regulations concerning the height of the nose. McLaren have chosen to design a nose that slopes gradually to the lower required height, instead of using a “stepped” wing, which has been done by Caterham F1, and is likely to be implemented on the Ferrari and Sauber 2012 racers.
The sidepods have also been redesigned from last year. The 2011 car featured unique ‘U’ shaped sidepods. This year, however, they seem to have designed sidepods that are higher than those of last year, and have a smooth, sleek top surface relative to the grooved design of 2011. Also, one can see that the bottom of the sidepod, near the floor, is dramatically narrower than the top, creating an overhand where the air ducts are located. Due to the banning of blown floors for 2012, McLaren most likely did this in an attempt to gain back some of the downforce lost at the rear.
Above is a 3/4 view of the 2012 car, in which we can see the gradual slope of the nose, as well as the cutaway in the sidepods below the air ducts. Just behind the Vodafone sponsorship decal, we can see a bulge at the rear of the car, which is where the exhaust exit is. The exhaust exits can no longer be on the floor of the car, and we will see that in 2012 all exhaust exits will protrude from the carbon fiber bodywork of the car. Because of the lack of piping needed for a blown exhaust, we will most likely see tighter rear packaging on the 2012 challengers.
One important note about this picture, McLaren have launched the car with their 2011-spec front wings, in an attempt to keep their aero strategy as secretive as possible until pre-season testing begins.
Caterham and McLaren are the only teams to have released their cars so far. Today (February 3), we will see Ferrari and Force India display their 2012 cars, with more teams unveiling their creations on Monday. Testing is only days away Jerez on February 6. Mercedes, Marussia, Williams, and HRT are the only teams who will not have their 2012 car at the first test in Jerez.