Some more quick-fire notes from the McLaren F1 launch, this time about the team.
- After all the speculation, McLaren’s colour scheme is much the same as last year. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh trod a delicate path in all his mentions of Mercedes, and politely reminded everyone that the manufacturer’s withdrawal from the team is a gradual one. For now, then, the silver stays. “I’m sure Mercedes will want four of its cars at the front, even if we may differ on what order we’d like them to finish!” said Whitmarsh.
- Sadly, Merc couldn’t respond. Its motorsport boss Norbert Haug wasn’t at the launch, having contracted a “voice problem”. Read into that what you will.
- One thing Whitmarsh didn’t do, though, was mention Michael Schumacher by name, even though he made plenty of references to him. Wonder why?
- Perhaps inevitably, the car on stage isn’t the one that will hit the track in Valencia next week. In particular, the team admitted to disguising its new double diffuser, which it describes as “a very aggressive interpretation of the rules.”
- Most noticeable thing about the two 2010 cars (Ferrari and now McLaren) launched so far? The length. Mainly this is to accommodate the fuel tank, which is approximately twice the size now refuelling is banned. So much longer in fact, that when McLaren assembled its car for today’s launch and put it in the car lift at its Woking HQ, it wouldn’t fit. “We were caught out a bit,” laughed Whitmarsh.
- The end of refuelling has brought other problems. engineering chief Paddy Lowe, who noted that the extreme heat transfer from engine to fuel tank during a race. With refuelling the teams could ‘reset’ that temperature with cooled fuel. Now it will be subjected to the heat for the entire race.
- Other design aspect of note included the massive, Red Bull style shark fin across the back of the car. “We think it’s interesting,” said Whitmarsh, without elaborating. “There’s been unprecedented collaboration between the aero and mechanical departments – we’ve need extreme aero to get the performance we need,” added Lowe.
- Tyre only pitstops have been managed by McLaren in 2.5 sec in practice. Lowe says the jury’s still out on whether teams will be stopping once or twice at most events, as they haven’t tested 2010 spec tyres yet, and there’s a chance of a rule change – set to be decided on Monday - that will force the top ten qualifiers to start the race on their qualifying tyres.
- On the plight of the new teams, Whitmarsh said this: “McLaren’s philosophy is that F1 teams should build their own cars, but practically we’re open to the idea of customer chassis. Ironically, the new teams had a chance to acquire Toyota’s car for this year – it had two cars ready by Christmas. I think they looked a gift horse in the mouth.”