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Will new McLaren live up to expectations?

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Andrew Benson | 13:38 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011

Confidence was not in short supply at McLaren as they unveiled their dramatic-looking 2011 Formula 1 car on Friday.

While most teams chose to reflect the austerity of the times by taking the wraps off their new cars in the pit lane at the first pre-season test in Valencia this week, McLaren instead went for a grand reveal in the centre of Berlin.

Mechanics wheeled in a chassis and suspension and attached the wheels and bodywork to the car in front of a crowd of interested spectators in Potsdamer Platz, a public space that sits on the fringe of the old Berlin Wall.

Fortunately, the appearance of the new MP4-26 car justified such a flamboyant approach, its sweeping lines and radical design innovations immediately obvious.

Equally obvious was the expectation the team have invested in the spectacular-looking machine. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could barely stop themselves smiling as they contemplated the car they both hope will take them to a second drivers' world championship.

Button talked about his "beautiful new baby"; Hamilton of his confidence that McLaren would be more competitive than in 2010 - when they won five races and both men led the championship at various stages of the season.

Hamilton and Button were bullish about their chances this season, and looking at the new car it was easy to see why.

For some time now, there have been rumours that McLaren had pushed the boat out with their new car, and that it would be probably the most innovative of the season. It did not disappoint.

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From the intricately curved front wing back, the new McLaren looks the part. It bristles with innovation - including an extra air intake on the airbox behind the driver, needed to cool the hydraulics and gearbox because the car has been packaged so tightly; L-shaped sidepod openings designed to get more airflow to the rear wing; and a particularly long wheelbase, which helps maximise downforce.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, sharing his drivers' optimism, added that there was more to come before the first race of the season in Bahrain on 13 March. "Be warned," he said, "we have not shown you everything," adding that the team had some "fantastic innovations" to come.

"I'm brimming with excitement," Whitmarsh said, "I think it's a fantastic car."

This has been a week of new-car launches, and much attention has focused on novelty.

In Valencia, there was Renault's new exhaust system, which exits out of the front of the sidepods and blows along them and under the floor in a bid to increase downforce. There was Williams's tiny gearbox. Even humble Toro Rosso were at it with a double floor.

Poor Ferrari - whose car does have innovations on it even if they are not as immediately obvious as some - and Red Bull - who have concentrated on evolving the car that was the class of the field in 2010 - were virtually ignored.

Until the cars actually went out on to the track, that is. At which point, guess what? Just as for most of 2010, the Red Bull and Ferrari were the quickest things out there, world champion Sebastian Vettel setting the pace on day one from Fernando Alonso, before the Spaniard, last season's runner-up, turned the tables, on day two.

They were beaten only by Robert Kubica's Renault on the final day, when the track was quicker because more rubber had gone down and Vettel and Alonso had gone home.

And there's the rub. F1 isn't all about innovation. It's about getting your car working together as a package, about making the numbers add up, about what engineers call "L over D". That's lift over drag - getting as much downforce (negative lift) as you can for as little drag as possible.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at the launch of the new McLaren F1 car

Hamilton and Button cannot hide their admiration for their new F1 car. Photo: Getty

In recent years, this has been what has let McLaren down. The team innovated last year, too, introducing the F-duct aerodynamic device, which stalled the rear wing on the straights, therefore allowing the team to either run more downforce than their rivals without the attendant straight-line speed penalty or the same downforce and be faster on the straights.

Even with this, though, the McLaren was not as aero-efficient as the Red Bull or Ferrari, and that continues a trend that has been apparent for the last few seasons.

Last season was a step forward from 2009, when McLaren started the year with a car that even they admit was awful. It improved through the year to the point that Hamilton was able to win a couple of races, but was still some way behind the pace-setters on tracks where efficient downforce is critical.

Even in 2007 and 2008, when McLaren respectively should have and did win the drivers' title, Hamilton believes the car was fundamentally not as good as the Ferrari against which it was competing. "Since I've been here, we've never had a car that was particularly strong aerodynamically," he said at one point last season.

That, in a nutshell, is the big question mark hanging over McLaren on the eve of the 2011 season.

Their drivers are world-class, Hamilton arguably the fastest in the world, and Button - not far behind him on pure pace - possibly the cleverest; the team is well-resourced; and they have fabulous engineering depth. But will the car ultimately be quick enough?

McLaren are aware of where they have fallen short in recent years, and director of engineering Tim Goss talks about "setting ourselves a very ambitious aerodynamic target for 2011".

But, for all the gorgeous curves on their new car, only in Bahrain next month will they begin to get a definitive answer as to whether those targets have either been achieved, or were high enough.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's definitely a looker! Let's hope it performs, too, eh?

    Looking forward to seeing what's what at Jerez next week!

  • Comment number 2.

    Anything would have been an improvement on last years car. It's back end was horrible to look at. Hated that design.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nice looking car. If the areo parts prove to be an effective inovation it will be interesting to see how quickly the other teams can replicate such a radical design without having to completly redesign there own chasis. Only time will tell. Looking forward to the first race.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am nervous for them but I think they could have the fastest cqar out there but we will not know probably until the first race. Well, unless they are 4 or 5 seconds quicker at the test then we might have an idea.

  • Comment number 5.

    It looks good, lets hope it delivers and that we have a fair fight between the top teams. If either of these two have the car advantage that was enjoyed by RBR then the season will be over in August. That wouldn't be good.

    Ginger.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree it's very innovative (the Marketing department's favourite word), but isn't 'revolutionary' a tad over-the-top? I'm referring to the headline of the main article, by the way.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm a bit worried that if they need an extra vent for cooling, they may have some reliability issues with overheating.

    Hopefully they've done some extensive testing to make sure that this won't be an issue.

    Gorgeous car though!

  • Comment number 8.

    "It improved through the year to the point that Hamilton was able to win a couple of races, but was still some way behind the pace-setters on tracks were efficient downforce is critical."

    That should surely read: "on tracks WHERE efficient downforce is critical".

  • Comment number 9.

    If points were being given out for being pretty this car has already won the constructors championship!!

    If it performs as well as it looks and that the extra cooling curbs any potential for overheating!

  • Comment number 10.

    The car looks quick and they have the side pod exhausts tat they are hiding. Benson, where did you get the idea that button is not far behind hamilton on pace. Hamilton outqualified the kid 14-5 and button i not the cleverest either, Based on 2 hail mary decisions at the start of the season. You never mention the decisions he got wrong. Stop bigging up button and wait until the the season begins then we will see what button is made of.

  • Comment number 11.

    I hope that the car runs as well as it looks.

    My only worry is that with a longer chassis will this not compromise the McLaren at tighter windier circuits such as Monaco?

  • Comment number 12.

    mclaren will be the team to beat in 2011 best driver lineup best engine done well with kers in 09 hamilton/button world champion 2011 mclaren to dminate in 2011

  • Comment number 13.

    it needs to focus on downforce as most circuits are heavliy reliant on it,only a few race dont need downforce,spa,monza and canada the most obvious.i hope it is a hamilton and alonso battle for the title.these 2 are epic and their talent in my opinion are miles ahead of the field,plus they strongly dislike each other

  • Comment number 14.

    Wow! What a car. It will either be way out front, or back of the grid.

    No wonder Button & Hamilton look like cats that have got the mouse to play with...

  • Comment number 15.

    It's a beautiful car. What a stunning design!

    I hope with all my heart that this year's McLaren is the class of the field, fingers crossed!

    Proud to be a McLaren fan x

  • Comment number 16.

    Fix the video interview with Lewis please,it's not working properly.

  • Comment number 17.

    The sidepods remind me of the Ferrari F192 (1992) formula 1 car.
    I'd call the new McLaren evolutionary, not revolutionary.

  • Comment number 18.

    velguk5s-10/ i agree with you but i am going to hold off and give Jake and the Beeb team the benefit of the doubt but if they continue on their blatant bias of Jenson i will have to complain.

    At least this year we wont hear Jake and his team spouting on about Jenson the current world champ.

    I hope they both hand it to Red Bull and Ferrari but let's not be under any illusion that if this cars is as quick as it looks Lewis is going to be a tuff nut to crack for all top the top drivers.

  • Comment number 19.

    Awesome car. Why do people not see JB doing awesome???? Think people need to take a look back at how awesome he was in the brawn! Anyone remember monaco qualifying, Early race passes, flying laps pre and post pit stops!! if he is comfortable with the car he will show radged rough hamilton up. hope mclaren show up RBR and make neweys smug face more glum!!!!! good luck mclaren! push the button JB!!!!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    If the tyres are set-up specifically to degrade faster that has to favour Button who is the smoothest driver on the circuit at the minute, seemingly getting not just one or two laps but 10-15 laps more out of his tyres at times than anyone else, especially Hamilton who is still overly aggressive on his tyres at times. One thign is for sure, if the aerodynamics of this new McLaren car is as good as expected then we are in for another belter of an F1 season. Can't wait to see it all in HD for the first time as well!

  • Comment number 21.

    Despite what some people say the design of this car isn't about being pretty, quite the contrary, it's about performance. However the McLaren colour scheme could most likely make any car look pretty. So the big question is how quick is it going to be, well if innovation has anything to do with it it should be a front runner, I certainly hope so. Let's also remember that there is more innovation to come on the car which we will see as we get nearer to or maybe even at the first race in Bahrain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nice looking car, I'm predicting there will be around half of the comments on here with the 'if it goes as quickly as it looks we'll have a race winner' cliché.

    There's been a fairly steady template for the FIA regarding innovation in the last few years:

    Team innovates-----> other teams complain/start copying-----> FIA decides to ban mid-season/outlaw for the following season.

  • Comment number 23.

    Definitely my favorite F1 car so far in 2011, hope McLaren can tweak the car in the remaining tests so its fast enough to beat the opposition by the first race of 2011.
    Lewis to get the job done and blow the opposition away.

  • Comment number 24.

    I cant wait for this season! Really hope Mclaren have cracked it this year, it certainly looks like they could well have done. Interesting to see the Jenson/Lewis debate has started already, I prefer Jenson but i think its going to be a fascinating battle and TBH I really wouldn't mind who wins. Lewis definitely had him in his pocket last year after a couple of smart decisions by JB.
    Its always difficult to tell from testing isn't it? So we'll have to wait for the opener for the early form. It will be interesting to see how mercedes shape up and who will win that little battle of deutcheland. Anyone got money on Schumacher reversing last years whooping?

  • Comment number 25.

    The article is harsh, all the new design innovations are not there for show but there for the reason of generation more downforce. Just because the car looks pretty does not mean it is going to lack downforce, Mclaren are clearly trying something new and they should applauded for their innovation.

    It is also slightly untrie to say they have been uncompetitive over the last few years. Mclaren have had a great car competing at the front of the field in 07/08/09 (end of season)/10 that's the last 4 years...In 3 years of those they either won or were still in the championship hunt in the final race of the year. www.f1predictions.net

  • Comment number 26.

    For sure the car looks different and McLaren are trying something new, which is highly commendable. I won't think anything until the qualifying session of the first GP is over. I don't even give a damn about the car actually looking good, I'll take the fastest car on the track any time over a car that just looks good.

    As Rory Byrne quite rightly said : a winning car is always beautiful, hopefully the lads at McLaren will have kept that in mind.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hey andrew,

    great article....however i just want to touch on the part when describing both great drivers.

    You describe button as 'possibly the cleverest' which I feel is a bit over-dramatic. Yes theres no doubt he made a good call in Oz & China, but surely those decisions were down to 'tossing the coin and hoping it lands the right way up scenario' or the 'Hmmm...shall it take the umbrella to work today?' scenarios. The big factor in those decisions was that luckily the weather did not continue to rain and the track dried out. And dont forget, button did use the same strategy 3 times in 2010, 2 of which earned him wins. And the 3rd, he got horribly wrong in Korea and lead to what was quite frankly an embaressing performance - in all 3 situations button used just the one same strategy.

    I think that some, especially the beeb f1 team & journos over-dramatisize on jenson a bit. Off course hes a good driver, but hes not a great driver as great drivers will still be great in a less than perfect car. The pundits always excuse him by saying that "Oh nevermind... but when the car is totally perfect jenson always delivers' - which i find an incredible statement as you can say the same for every other driver lol. Button in a perfect car alongside: Ham, Alo, Vet, Schu, Web, Kub & Ros...all in a perfect car also - Button would still finish behind most of them if not all.

    Also, when we discuss for years and still are, about needing to make F1 more exciting....I dont think we can disagree that more aggression and aggressive driving helps those ratings massively. As a good as a driver button is, his driving is not exciting and aggressive. We all want more 100meter runs instead of cross-country runs.

    To label jenson as 'possibly the cleverest' just for flicking the same coin twice....is kind of ridiculous. Alot of other drivers have also made gambles and which fortunately came off...but i dont hear such sustaining credit for them. Its as if certain people feel the need to create a USP for jenson to be famous for - its just all seems to be a bit manufactered

    With great respect to jenson, I do feel he is a 'one trick pony' and very limited & restricted as a driver.

    Anyway lets hope the mclaren mp4-26 is a great car - Im not too impressed with the looks but im sure it'll grow on me but the main thing is as long as its a great car...thats all that matters!

  • Comment number 28.

    Heaven knows what these Button haters will do if he comes out and wins another title.
    Still, it seems anything will do for them to take another poke at him For instance, I can't find the comment anywhere in Benson's column that says he based his judgement on Button's 'cleverness' because of two races last year.
    I particularly love the bit in supersix' post about Jensen needing a manufactured reason for being famous. He is famous supersix. He is one of a very elite class of drivers that won a World Title

  • Comment number 29.

    Hmm when was the last time we had a low slung long wheelbase McLaren...?

    Ah yes - 1988 with the last of the John Barnard influenced McLarens the MP4/4.

    Which won 15 of the 16 races.

    His next car? The 1989 Ferrari - which had radical sidepods too

    So nothing new and, like all current F1 cars, is ugly

  • Comment number 30.

    This season will be dominated by how well the tyres are used. The wholescale switch to a new provider with minimal testing must be a massive gamble. If the rumours are to believed and tyre degradation is high it becomes even more of a determining factor as two stoppers become three stopers etc.
    Hopefully this aero will allow McLaren to look after the tyres and warm them up better than last season.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hopefully this car will win races from the start of the season.

    That has been McLarens downfall.

    All that I hope now is that the car can handle the Pirelli tyres the best.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is a very intiguing design and looks awesome! Personally I hope it's looks are more impressive than it's speed as I'd love to see Alonso win his third title. Can't wait for the first race!

  • Comment number 33.

    i thought last years car at first didnt look good but came to liking it. this years car looks different in a good way but i hope and pray mclaren teach redbull a lesson. come on lewis and jenson the UK needs u.

  • Comment number 34.

    7 - Swanbot -"I'm a bit worried that if they need an extra vent for cooling, they may have some reliability issues with overheating.
    Hopefully they've done some extensive testing to make sure that this won't be an issue"

    No they had a couple of pints down the Dog and Duck and thought I know lets just cut a hole in it to get some air in!
    This is McLaren not so back street stock car company!

  • Comment number 35.

    13. At 3:35pm on 04 Feb 2011, adrenilenepotato wrote:
    it needs to focus on downforce as most circuits are heavliy reliant on it,only a few race dont need downforce,spa,monza and canada the most obvious

    All circuits are reliant on the car developing downforce but some require a compromise to reduce drag and therefore there is a reduction in downforce.
    A F1 car with now down force wouldn't stay on the track at any speed!

  • Comment number 36.

    @ 27. SupaSix-1, I totally agree with you. Button is not a clever driver but British F1 journalists have to clutch at straws to compliment him because he is nowhere near the elite as Hamilton and Button. Getting lucky on a weather call, and plodding round hoping others fail is not "cleverness". Well, at least you have the freedom to criticise him on this site. On most British F1 sites, he is an untouchable God who cannot be criticised in any manner, shape or form.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think Mclaren have played a great hand here. Holding a big money launch on a car after the first pre season test. The teams have all gone. got their data, taken it back to the factory and planned the direction of development and Mclaren offer a completely different design, stretching the limits of the rules and all the other designers sit at home and scratch their heads. Bet the design is already being plugged into the ferrari simulator and Alonso is sat testing it.

    It doesn't matter who was fastest in testing, Mclaren take the headlines going into the weekend.

    Exciting isn't it!

  • Comment number 38.

    Right will everyone back down and wait until we get into some serious testing and more importantly the 1st race before casting there rods. Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault and now Mclaren have revealed vehicles which all could be potential champions. The fact is the next season is going to be a very long when the 1st out the blocks could be 4th by the finish, and one of the most important factors, tyres, has not been completely understood by any of these teams yet. Yes Hamilton could be the fastest driver on the planet, Alonso could be the most complete, Vettel could be the new Schumi, Button could be the most conservative on degrading tyres etc etc. The point is that it's to early to cast your votes, this could be the greatest season ever, even after what has happened over the last 3 years. Hasn't F1 put itself back into a 60's/70's period of true competition? But why don't we all wind our necks in until maybe the 1st race, but even better the 3rd race then we might start seeing the bigger picture unfold. Aren't we lucky, our sport is back and at it's best!

  • Comment number 39.

    What a great looking car, I just hope we have another British WC this year.

    On a different note, does anyone know what the fin is over the engine cover of the new Red Bull?

  • Comment number 40.

    The car needs to be sleeker, like the Red Bull and the Ferrari so that it can corner faster and thereby address the cornering downforce problems of previous cars. Simplistic but Ferrari followed Red Bull on this.

  • Comment number 41.

    Hi guys, I think one of the most interesting pics I have seen of the car launch was here on the F1 official website. They talk about packing things in tight...I can't remember seeing a car with better potential to keep the centre of gravity low than this one....and the put KERS in there as well??? Wow!

    Check out pic 29 in the car launches section

    http://www.formula1.com/gallery/launches/2011/565.html

    On the subject of Lewis vs JB...I favour Lewis as he is more aggressive and more exciting...that said, this was really his downfall last season! Either to win as long as it's a Mclaren!

  • Comment number 42.

    I think mclaren will do very well this season i am a big williams fan my 2011 prediction
    1. mclaren
    2. ferrari
    3. red bull
    4. mercedes gp
    5. williams
    6. renault lotus
    7. force india
    8. lotus
    9. toro rosso
    10 hrt
    11 virgin racing

    my driver championship top ten
    1. button
    2. alonso
    3. vettel
    4. schumacher
    5. hamilton
    6. massa
    7. webber
    8. rosberg
    9. barrichello
    10.kubica

    bahrain 2011 result
    1. button
    2. schumacher
    3. vettel

  • Comment number 43.

    Hamilton will blow everyone away in 2011 including Button.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi everyone. Im trying to become a journalist in Formula One and have started my own blog, it would be great if you could have a look and join, thanks.

    http://formulaonenewsblog.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 45.

    I am not an engineer. I am not an aerodynamics expert. All I have to go on is watching F1 for a lot of years. The cars I think look best are the Mercedes, McLaren, and Team Lotus - in that order. The Renault just has too much gold 'bling' for me. As for which is going to win most races gut feeling tells me that of the cars I have seen so far, McLaren might just (and only just) edge Red Bull and Ferrari with Mercedes and Renault fighting for forth. However my gut feelings at the pre season testing over the last couple of years told me the Brawn car a couple of years ago did not stand a chance and that Ferrari would easily win last year!

    As for the arguments on drivers, Alonso, Button, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel and Webber are all in my mind as potential championship winners - my mind's judge is still out on Kubica and Schumacher - for this year. Each year drivers consistency seems to change. Often this is down to the car coupled with the challenge which both affect moral. To see what I mean by challenge just look at Kovalinan for example. At MacLaren he had a good car but, although quite fast came over as mediocre where as last year he did not have a front runner but drove brilliantly.

    All this means that no matter what our predictions are at this stage, it is only as the season starts to unfold that we can really see where which cars and drivers are likely to be best for the season.

    If you are looking for championship winners you also have to look at the whole team from the point of view of getting reliability and performance, developing the car as well as pit stops and strategy so why do we talk here about the drivers and the car without considering the team? (OK - some do but not many).

    Finally how do you measure the best driver? Most points? Most wins? Most exciting? Least errors?

  • Comment number 46.

    Does anyone else find it strange that whilst most teams desperately try to hide their cars innovative components mclaren have not. I found it surprising that they happily wheeled the car out with panels missing and bolted it together in front of the worlds press before allowing the same people to clamber around the car to get some cracking close ups. Could this be a bit of gamesmanship from the team?

    P.s I can't wait to see Hamilton tie alonso up in knots again and for alonso to respond with the usual petulant teddy throwing display. Roll on Bahrain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Andrew Benson would it kill you to do a blog without mentioning Fernando Alonso? And what exactly do you mean by "Poor Ferrari"? Your blogs are just not making any sense anymore. MASSA FOR 2011 TITLE!

  • Comment number 48.

    MASSA FOR THE TITLE. YOU MUST BE JOKING........ Massa is a second rate driver who has missed his chance back in 08. If he didn't have Mr smedley constanly giving him instructions, Massa would forget to change gear.

    Your probably angry at Mr Benson for mentioning Alonso and ferrari because deep down you know that ferrari only really consider them to have one driver. Massa is even a poor second driver. When did he take points of vettel, Webber, Hamilton and button whilst Alonso was pulling rabbits out of hats. Never.

  • Comment number 49.

    There are a fair few people disagreeing with Andrew Benson for branding Button as 'possibly the cleverest' driver, but I think he's absolutely right. If you listen to the radio discussions that take place and the way drivers discuss strategy it's absolutely clear that most of the top drivers (Hamilton, Alonso & Vettel in particular) are quite happy to allow the team to make all the judgements, especially the difficult ones and can then be heard criticising them for it when it doesn't work out! Button is far more active in the decision making process, being willing to take charge and make the decision himself. He deserves full credit when he gets it right - which more often than not, he does. Hamilton is clearly the faster driver of the two, but Button should be given credit for his abilities too. It might not be as exciting a skill as the 'racer' mentality of Hamilton but it doesn't stop it being accurate!

  • Comment number 50.

    Great looking car and sounds innovative but how long will it take other teams to replicate. I think it is unfair that other teams can just copy other teams designs and technology. At the end of last year Mclaren had barely any advantage over any teams on the straights because they all just copied their f-duct.

  • Comment number 51.

    Post 49 - You havnt a clue mate, your telling me Alonso has the team telling him what do is total nonsense. The Canadian race last year had him driving fast with changing tires, mixed field yet he worked out where everyone was and relevant to his on race. If it wasnt for dodgy back markers he would have won the race (I am a Lewis fan) So saying he isn't a thinker and button is a total joke and you should watch some more F1 before you make idiotic comments like that.

    Button is a good driver, if he has the perfect car he can be very good but the top drivers are the ones who can be great in poor cars, he was 40 odd points off the others last season, he is average and a lucky champion. Ham, Alo, Vet, Schu and Kub are better than him for sure, Web, Ros, Mas are his level drivers. Hamilton beat him 14-5 in qualifying and won more race points didnt he not?

    Before this injury Kub deserves a top racing seat as he is the real deal, lets hope button struggles and we can get better racers in the right cars.

    Come on Lewis!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    I'll be at Jerez on Friday to check it out. It's look quite dramatic from the rear. It has a rocket-retro look to it

  • Comment number 53.

    Honestly!!! this nonsense that button made lucky calls!!! Aus made a gamble and paid off in singapore he was 70+ seconds ahead of hamilton before the safety car came out!! That isn't luck!!!! In his career he has made average cars better than average. BAR when he won- where were his team mates- no where. scrapping with schumy in his hay day!!! because of a pathetic renault and a awful dog honda in 08 you lot all tarnish his ability!!! His downfall last yr was qually and he needs to put it right but he needs a stable rear to be confident! just like when at brawn- his qually performances until a bit stressed were good- especially at start of 09! I cant wait til he whoops hamilton next yr, and once hamilton is ruffled he'll just implode. Credit to button when he wasn't as quick as hamilton, he just got on. Hamilton squeels and whinges on the radio!

  • Comment number 54.

    i think this season will be fantastic i am a big alonso fan he should of won title last season he will win this season.

    MY PREDICTIONS FOR BAHRAIN

    1. ALONS0
    2. MASSA
    3. SCHUMACHER
    4. VETTEL
    5. BUTTON

  • Comment number 55.

    I think this is a very well and balanced article. Both Lewis and Jenson are great drivers in their own right and together they should be a great team. The car is just so beautiful to look at and I hope this reflects in its performance.

    If I was a betting man, I would bet on LH to take the WDC with Jenson in the fight to the very end, and McLaren the WCC.

  • Comment number 56.

    no i disagree lewis makes to many mistakes jenson will beat lewis this season

  • Comment number 57.

    There was mention of a drag reduction system on a forum, someone pointed out that the L shaped sidepods would reduce drag.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 46 MustGetOutMore:

    Does anyone else find it strange that whilst most teams desperately try to hide their cars innovative components mclaren have not.

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    To avoid the really innovative features being seen, the McLaren MP4-26 'internals' and even some of external areas were mock-ups. The 'real' car will appear at the next test and will, apparently, be quite different, especially under the skin. It will be interesting to see how well it goes. Hopefully it will avoid the pitfalls of Newey's advanced flop, the MP4-18 a few years back.

  • Comment number 59.

    If Button had been in the Red Bull last year, The championship would have been over mid-season.

  • Comment number 60.

    As usual we are all being encouraged to comment before we know anything. None of the teams have got beyond initial installation, reliability and tyre testing but we are presented with their times as though they were somehow meaningful.

    The McLaren looks well balanced, which is often a sign that the car will be strong (it was certainly true for Red Bull last year) but we have yet to see the car properly, let alone see it turning a wheel. Most of these cars will have changed quite a lot between now and the start of the first race.

    Looking forward to a great season - just sorry Robert Kubica will not be there and hoping he makes a full recovery.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    "Formula One austerity" - surely an oxymoron.

  • Comment number 63.

    Love the L shaped sidepods, and I am no aerospace engineer but you can imagine how that would work to create greater downforce and stability at the back without increasing drag.
    Now, with the risk of being contraversial I am going to join in the Lewis/Jenson debate with saying that I think they are both fantastic in equal measure, but differing ways.
    Jenson - until two years ago was in my opinion the most underated driver in F1 for many years. He had been unfortunate with some management decisions which had put him in the wrong cars at the wrong times, but had shown glimpses of brilliance. In 2008 he looked like he had lost his fire, and although he was fortunate to eventually fulfil his potential in 2009(with Brawn), he fully deserved his WDC. He is an exceptional driver, with an exquisite racing touch, who I love to watch when it all comes together. He is however heading towards the end of his F1 career.
    Lewis - boy can he drive, unfortunately he can also crash... quite a lot as it happens. But at least he is exciting to watch eh? Is he the fastest? who can tell, but he is certainly up there. He can drive any car to its full potential and beyond, and only he can write himself off (normally when he writes the car off). He has many years left at the top of his game, but he needs to get his head straight before he can win more WDCs.
    Who is the cleverest? who knows? who cares? they are both exceptional drivers, and are both very clever, as are a number of others in the field (notably Alonso, Schumi, Vettel, Kubica (who I hope has a speedy and full recovery).
    Who will win the WDC this year? No one can tell... that's part of the fun, isn't it.
    Will the McLaren be fastest? I really really hope so, being a massive fan of McLaren.

  • Comment number 64.

    * 61 - nice joke, and thanks for prefacing it with a warning. Only heard about Kubica's accident today and am gutted for him. Hopefully he will fully recover and give it his best: after all, if the likes of Niki Lauder and Alessandro Zanardi could come back from what seem far, far worse accidents... fingers crossed, Kubica will be back and deliver on the potential most F1 fans believe he is capable of.

    And McLaren. Great looking car. Let's hope it proves more competitive than last year. That's all we want, competitive, nail-biting, unpredictable, and exciting races.

    Re: Button / Hamilton. Who's cleverer? May as well ask who's prettier.

    For Hamilton - for those of us who've been following his story since he was a teen - it is still about his future potential. His 'potential' initially was that he could well be a top 10 driver of all time. That was the sales blurb. And I believe it. Especially after his first season. Which was brilliant. I hope he fulfils that potential. It is the stuff of dreams.

    But I'm a bigger fan of Jenson Button. He's definitely the underdog of the duo, and he's got far fewer years to prove his 'potential' to be a continuous winner was always there, with the right package of course. Also, Button was easily the most relaxed, cheerful and humorous driver of last year.

    At a distance, I admire them both, and hope they continue to complement each other. I also happen to admire many other drivers. including Vettel, and hope Rosberg continues to do well, and look forward to seeing ALL of them racing from.... next month! can't wait. (And only driver I find annoying is Alonso....)

  • Comment number 65.

    velguk5s and dane have got it absolutely right.

    I really wish this season we don't see anymore of the BBC bias toward Jenson and sniping at Lewis. Support or criticize BOTH BRITS equally please.

    Just report the facts and let the fans make up their own minds who they want to support.

    No more of quoting the quali battle score between Jenson and Lewis only when it favours Jenson as Jake is guilty of doing.

    I have to question Andrew Bensons impartiality when he says Button is not far behind Lewis on pure pace when you know Lewis out-qualified Jenson 14-5 and had more wins and finished more than a race ahead of Jenson on points even after having 2 more dnf's than Jenson, do I need to go on....

    If Jenson get's a head start over Lewis at the start of the season will we see another article from you entiltled "Wise Button putting Hamilton in the shade" and then no corresponding article for Lewis when he reverses the score?

    Yes I know the Jenson fans will now predictably play the "paranoia" card but we all have eyes and ears and can see what's going on.

    On a positive note apart from my gripes I think the coverage is better since F1 came back to the BBC.

  • Comment number 66.

    How comes mr benson doesn't put up Jensons race to win ratio from the start of F1? In comparison to Lewis?

    In mr Bensons eyes Jenson is the cleverest driver who doesn't need to win races, however its the taking part that counts right?
    Also as long as the tyres look great when he comes into the garage and he is nearly half a lap down this surely means he is a fantastic driver.
    If a racing driver can't race whats the point of actually competing?
    You might as well stick a pair of part worn tyres from a scrap heap give um to jenson because he wont use the expensive ones to there full potential.
    Surely Mr Benson when watching the greats slide an F1 car round a track in previous years i bet all you thought about was tyre wear rather than the skill of pushing that car too its limits? Or actually trying to be a winner rather than a good loser?
    It says on his blog title you been watching this for 16 years however going by some of your posts i doubt you have fully grasped what racing pedigree is.
    Thankfully those that actually appreciate a race can see through the rose tinted jenson glasses the bbc have and appreciate a good hard out race rather than just waiting for someone to fall off the track.
    Procession anyone? oh wait the bbc are good at covering that. Changing of the guard anyone? ;o)




  • Comment number 67.

    have all the button-haters, (surely not real F1 fans anyway), forgotten that if Vettel had not crashed into him whilst he was in the lead and then a mechanic forgot to take the cover out of his sidepod - agian blew his race whilst leading, he would have been 50 points plus and been double world champion.

    Also the silly comment about "a great driver is great in an average car" is simply not backed up by the facts. Schumacher was less than average last year and others in the past like Mansell at Mclaren have done poorly due to a bad car.

    Really looking forward to the season as only then will we see what works and doesnt and who is fast and isnt.

  • Comment number 68.

    Out of all the teams, McLaren have the most KERS experience, and they know how to make it work for them. I bet this will get them more points than all the others for the start of the season, whilst the others play catchup in that respect.

    I'm pretty confident that McLaren are going to be at the front come end-of-season in AbuDabi.

  • Comment number 69.

    f1fan2011, I think you should read my post again before throwing the Button-hating accusation around. The observations I made do not attack Jenson, they just highlight the bias supposedly impartial reporters representing the BBC have towards Jenson over Lewis which is sad considering they are both british.

    As for Jensons dnfs, you could obviously apply the same logic to Lewis and he'd be world champ so your argument does'nt stand up.

    Anyway best of luck to Jenson and Lewis for the coming season. Let's hope the car is good so we can see some exciting racing.

  • Comment number 70.

    Saw an interesting comment from Jenson Button saying 'no matter how good your aerodynamics are, if the tyres go off you'll still be slow ...' he was referign to his driving style being softer on the rubber - but if you take that to the logical conclusion, the team that has invested in both aerodynamic efficiency and mechanical grip is going to be the team to beat. I just hope that McLaren isn't just an aero-trick pony with overly stiff springing to keep the car in the envelope as has been the case for the last two year beacuse the Pirellis won't take the abuse.

  • Comment number 71.

    Am I the only one who thinks it looks horrible!? The MP4-10 from 1995 springs to mind!

 

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