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McLaren launches its 2012 F1 car

  1. This is the McLaren MP4-27, just unveiled at the team’s Technology Centre in Woking. Pretty, isn’t it? Here’s hoping it’ll remain so come race day. The point was made repeatedly this morning that the car lining up for the first pre-season test day (7 February) will be different to the car that starts the Australian Grand Prix on 16 March.

    Still, this is the first of the big teams’ new cars and Top Gear has spooks all over the McLaren Death Star. So exclusively, we bring you… Ten Things You Now Know About F1 In 2012 That You Didn’t Before The Launch Of The New McLaren MP4-27, At About 11.05am This Morning.

  2. Not all 2012 cars are as ugly as the Caterham. The MP4-27 looks elegant, simple and sorted. No sign of the ‘platypus’ nose that rumours had said would blight this years racers on account of the rule change that lowers the nose of the cars by 7cm. Jenson Button even felt moved to point this out: “It’s a beautiful car, unlike many you’ll see,” he said. Lewis Hamilton could only drool: “Beautiful cars are usually fast cars…”

  3. It’s all about ‘Saturday Cars’ vs ‘Sunday Cars’, especially when it comes to the DRS rear wings. Last year Red Bull built a car that optimised its DRS for qualifying, so Vettel could put it on pole and control the race from there. McLaren built a ‘Sunday Car’, with the DRS optimised to help it get by the Red Bull. If only they’d been able to catch it.

  4. Jenson Button is now the main man at McLaren. His name was on the car - at least on the side facing the cameras - and he took the first question. Lewis, relaxed and clearly itching to get on it, played catch up.

  5. Lewis has (another) new beard style. He’s dangerously close to a full Bear Grylls, as you might expect from a man who spent his winter in the Rocky Mountains.

  6. McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is career planning. Maybe he wants Jean Todt’s job, maybe even Bernie’s should he ever feel the need to retire. Asked any question about McLaren, he didn’t miss one chance to evangelise F1 in general and express frustration at the way it’s promoted. In his view it should stand alongside soccer on the global sports stage. In his view, he’s the man to get it there.

  7. Sporting Director Sam Michael (right), ex-Williams, will need to adjust his hair if he wants to impress Ron at McLaren and move up inside the clinical confines of the McLaren Tech Centre. His over-use of hair products clearly violates cleanliness and hygiene rules in Woking.

  8. Simulators aren’t just for learning new tracks. Jenson Button has already completed three days in the MP4-27 on the sim’, and to prove the point McLaren has two test drivers (who can only test on the simulator during the season don’t forget) and each even has his own flameproof jumpsuit for the job.

  9. Lewis Hamilton has got his mojo back. Maybe it will suit him not having to carry the team this year. For once, Lewis is the one making jokes about the MP4-27’s big new mirrors (“so I can see Felipe…”) and the new ‘one-move’ overtaking rule (“Michael Schumacher might struggle…”).

  10. Don’t expect this year’s cars to be any slower than last year despite new rules that govern the position of the exhaust exits and the engine computer control maps that effectively ban blown diffusers. “Exhaust gases are basically thrust,” says Tim Goss, engineering director. “Thrust makes cars go faster.” Expect once again for the technology fight to be all about the back of the car.

  11. It’s all eyes on Red Bull now. McLaren has dropped the ‘U’ (or ‘L’ depending on who’s talking) - shaped sidepods from last years car and gone for a rear end as lean and sharp as Red Bull’s 2011 RB7. Red Bull launches its new car on Monday. Will it be an evolution of last year’s car or will designer Adrian Newey have another big idea up his sleeve as he goes for his first ever triple of Driver’s Championships?

    Meanwhile, in Maranello, Ferrari is trying to finish preparations for the presentation of its F1 contender. They’re having a bit of weather, though…

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