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Lewis Hamilton & Jenson Button thrilled by new McLaren

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button pose with the 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.

The ground-breaking front wing and sidepods of the new McLaren are clearly visible
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.

ANDREW BENSON'S BLOG

"You have five world champions on the grid, but also the drivers who have been close like (Ferrari's) Felipe Massa and Mark Webber.

"I hope it's going to be a good fight this year - but hopefully not too good. Hopefully we're going to have a few 10ths on everyone."

Goss said he was confident the team had done everything they could to find performance in the new car.

"We set ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011," Goss said. "We always want to do more and we're always very critical about performance, but we feel we've done a good job.

"We've identified some areas where we can add performance to the car - over the next weeks, the task will be to get them on to the car and reliable by the first race. That's the big challenge."

Hamilton feels great as McLaren launch car

The new McLaren will run for the first time alongside all the other 2011 cars at the second pre-season test in Jerez next week.

Tyres, Button admitted, would be the key factor in deciding results this season.

Pirelli, which replaces Bridgestone as F1's supplier, has been asked to make tyres that degrade quicker in a bid to spice up the racing, and they have been true to their word.

"The mechanical grip, the downforce, whatever none of it matters unless you can get those tyres working," Button told BBC Sport.

"We've got to work with them - some areas are better than the previous tyre and some areas are worse. It's a big change for us and it's who can make the best of the situation."



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see also
'Eureka' moments excite Whitmarsh
04 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
F1 teams unveil new cars
31 Jan 11 |  Formula 1
Hamilton eager for 2011 McLaren
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Kubica sets test pace for Renault
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Alonso responds to Red Bull pace
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel quickest in Valencia test
01 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel predicts tough title fight
01 Feb 11 |  Formula 1


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