McLaren kicked off its 50th anniversary celebrations today with the unveiling of the MP4-28, their vehicle to the F1 podium and hopefully, championship success this season.
From the outside, it all looks the same: the car, the colours, and even the livery. But it isn’t. The MP4-28, says a McLaren press release, is much more than just a mere refinement on its 2012 predecessor. “For everyone involved in its inception, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 is the logical culmination of everything we’ve ever done: it’s the sum of 50 years’ experience, expertise and passion. The MP4-28 isn’t merely a refinement of last year’s seven-race-winning car, it’s a deep and sweeping redesign of an already successful chassis in several key areas – most notably around the nose and front suspension, the sidepod profiles and the rear bodywork,” the press release stated.
The launch of the car also brought together the two faces everyone has been waiting to see. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez arrived at the McLaren Technology Centre in style. Button stepped out of the still-being-developed and yet stunning McLaren P1™ sportscar, while Checo got out of the 12C Spider. A word though here, about the McLaren P1™: I was tempted to upload a picture of Button and the car. But I have to admit, I wouldn’t then, do the P1™ justice. The car will be launched this year and aims at being the “best drivers’s car in the world, on both the road and track”.
The big McLaren reveal though started with an ode to the team’s rich racing history. A parade of championship-winning cars roared through the Centre bringing back memories of legendary races and iconic heroes – whether it was the 1970’s M8D CanAm sportscar, Emerson Fittipaldi’s iconic 1974 M23, Ayrton Senna’s 1988 MP4/4, the 1995 Le Mans-winning F1 GTR, Mika Hakkinen’s MP4-13 or Lewis Hamilton’s MP4-23 from 2008.
It was enough to drive home McLaren’s roadmap for 2013. The goal was to win. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said, “For 2013, of course, we go racing to win. With Jenson and Checo, and this fantastic-looking new car, I believe we’re extremely well prepared for another competitive season.” Jenson Button however laid emphasis on three key words: continuity, reliability and consolidation. “We were extremely strong throughout the whole of the 2012 season, but for one reason or another, we couldn’t quite pull it all together to challenge for the championships. That’s something we want to address for 2013. I’ve seen just how closely everybody has been working together on this car, and I think we’ve got the basis for a very strong season.”
Sergio Perez however admitted that the road ahead was one full of challenges as he negotiated a new team with an experienced champion for a teammate. “I am fully aware of the steep slope ahead of me: it has already been an intense couple of weeks, getting to grips with a new team, meeting my engineers and mechanics, learning new ways of working and, of course, learning all about a brand new car – something I’ll need to do with just six days of on-track testing. It’s a big challenge,” he said.
And so it will. Their biggest challengers will undoubtedly be Red Bull and Ferrari – two teams that, in 2012 rose to the occasion and made McLaren work for every point. Will it be any different this year?
[Compiled from the McLaren press release]