McLaren says its new MP4-27 is a total overhaul of last year's car, the team says, despite its outward appearance pointing to it being an evolution of its 2011 contender.
After the covers came off the new car at McLaren's Woking, UK factory on Wednesday, the main focus points of the MP4-27 were a nose step that was less extreme than some had expected, and the positioning of the exhausts. Tim Goss, McLaren's director of engineering, said that although outwardly the car was an evolution of the MP4-26, it was, in fact, totally different under the skin.
"We have set ourselves tough and ambitious targets, and we aim to deliver those by the first race and have a championship-winning car," explained Goss. "This car is a complete rework from nose to tail, and there is very little that is carried over. A bit of the fuel system is the same, but almost everything else on the car has changed.
"There were a few features we have pushed quite hard from the beginning of the project. I am proud of the whole team and the efforts so far, and from now we go to the next phase of the project which is really wringing the performance out of it. We have a good track record of that – we have big plans, upgrades for the front wing, rear wing, floor and bodywork are already planned."
Technical director Paddy Lowe said that the nature of modern regulations makes it difficult for teams to deliver innovation, but that did not stop his outfit from believing it had made a good performance step with the car.
"The regulations are trimming us into narrower and narrower boxes," he said. "We don't see big radical changes from one year to the next year.
"This car looks very similar, but underneath a great deal of changes have taken place. Every part has been assessed for weight and performance. If you add all that up, you get a car that is quicker. Teams are tasked to find that 1 percent to 2 percent performance improvement – but nevertheless there are obvious innovations.
"We have done a lot of work around the back end, and there is a lot more tidy packaging there, and we have had to do a lot of work on exhausts. That has given the aerodynamicists a great challenge, not only to find the downforce but also in creating the right balance. You need downforce, but also you have to be able to use it in the right area."
McLaren has moved away from the U-shaped sidepods that it ran last year, because the down-wash advantage created by that design is no longer relevant now that blown diffusers have been banned. Lowe also explained that the team never bothered investigating the reactive ride height system being pursued by Lotus and Ferrari, which was outlawed recently by the FIA.
"That was in a family of designs that we have considered often in the past, but in our assessment we would not consider that to be legal," he said. "So we did not get involved in what was being done.
"Our view was that it was not something we would pursue, so it was pleasing to see that avenue shut down according to our interpretation."