6 Early Takeaways from McLaren's Launch of the MP4-29
McLaren today became the first team to officially launch their challenger for the 2014 Formula One season.
Fans had been eagerly awaiting this moment—regulation changes meant the nose in particular was set to look very different, and this was the first chance to get a proper look at what the cars might be like.
Let's see how it went.
Billed as an online launch, fans eagerly waited until midday. When it came...
Nothing really happened. Some fans (me included) were looking forward to a live stream of the drivers peeling back a sheet to reveal the beast underneath, but we didn't get it.
A few minutes before the stated launch time, a new page appeared on the McLaren website, with four photographs and a 360-degree view of a model.
McLaren then tweeted a photo of the car with Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen and third driver Stoffel Vandoorne.
That was it.
It all seemed rather strange and anticlimactic.
It's difficult to see on the photos, but McLaren uploaded a video, which shows it better. The new single exhaust exiting from the rear of the car is the best-looking F1 exhaust in years.
Big, beefy and simple. A great way to offset the ugly nose.
Ugly stick wins! Flawless victory!
It's long been known that most teams would be adopting the unflattering anteater/finger-noses.
The regulations state the nose must be no higher than 185 millimetres from the ground. However, the teams don't want a nose there, because it restricts the flow of air under the car—and the regulations don't state that a full-width nose must be that low.
The result is seen above.
On the positive side, McLaren's solution gives their car a very aggressive-looking front end.
McLaren have retained the triangular side pod openings of the MP4-28, but the side pods themselves are noticeably larger than they were on last year's car, giving the car a chubbier shape.
This is because 2014 cars will have a greater need for cooling than their predecessors, due to the new "powertrains"—the turbo and more powerful ERS unit, which gives off a lot of heat.
The side pods now have intercoolers in them, something the old cars did not.
The air intake above the driver's head is also larger than on previous models.
McLarens are usually very attractive cars, but this one isn't as visually impressive. Even if we exclude the nose, it's all rather average.
Last year, there was a lot of Vodafone red, but the MP4-29 is just a big silver block with only a few splashes of red from the McLaren logo.
The spaces which would usually be taken by a title sponsor are filled by MP4-29 branding.
This suggests they're just placeholders, waiting to be swapped out for a company logo as and when a deal is done.
Watch this space.