Lewis Hamilton & Jenson Button thrilled by new McLaren
The new McLaren, unveiled in Berlin, features interesting design innovations
By Andrew Benson
McLaren have unveiled the new car that Englishmen Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both hope will make them world champions for the second time.
McLaren decided not to have the car ready for the first test this week to spend more time designing it.
Button said: "This is our new baby, the car we hope will take one of us to the drivers' championship and the team to win the constructors'. It's beautiful."
"We'll be quite a bit more competitive than we were last year," said Hamilton.
McLaren hope the extra design time they have devoted to the car will give them a crucial advantage when the season starts in Bahrain on 13 March.
'Beautiful' new McLaren delights Button
And the car features a number of intriguing aerodynamic design innovations.
The bodywork is extensively sculpted and there is a novel engine cover design, featuring two air inlets, and the front wing features a series of very dramatic shapes.
The air intake on the sidepods - the bodywork that sticks out either side of the driver - is also a shape never seen in F1 before, double the height on the outside of the car than it is where the intake meets the cockpit beside the driver.
McLaren said the L-shaped sidepod front was an attempt to get more airflow to the rear wing, thereby increasing aerodynamic downforce.
The second air intake is to aid cooling of the gearbox and hydraulics, according to director of engineering Tim Goss, at a time when McLaren have packaged the car as tightly as possible for optimum aerodynamic performance.
McLaren finished second in the constructors' championship last season, with Hamilton and Button finishing fourth and fifth in the drivers' chase in an unprecedented five-man battle with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
McLaren features radical sidepod openings (beside cockpit)
But the McLaren was the third fastest car for much of the season, and the team hope they will close the gap to Ferrari and, particularly, Red Bull.
Ferrari and Red Bull have already laid down the gauntlet with some quick times in the first test in Valencia this week, while the new Renault also appears to be fast.
But Hamilton and Button are confident they will be in the championship fight again.
Hamilton said: "Last year was one of the best ever, and this year I think we'll have an even more competitive season.
"We've seen it in the wind tunnel but this is the first time we've seen it all together and it looks even better in full size."
Hamilton told BBC Sport that he felt in better physical shape than ever, was confident McLaren would be more competitive in 2011 than they had been in 2010, and that he was feeling more positive in his personal life after admitting a couple of months ago that last year had been difficult for him on that front.
Button added: "I've had some fun and good years in F1. But the competitiveness now of the teams but also the drivers is the best it ever has been in my view.
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