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Friday, 24 January 2014

McLaren MP4-29 Will Clean Your Floor With Its Tongue

2014 McLaren MP4-29 sitting alone in the McLaren Technology Centre
McLaren didn't have the greatest season last year. After boldly going a different way to the rest of the field in 2012 and ending up right on the tail of Red Bull, they boldly went another different way in 2013 (not just by swapping Lewis Hamilton for Sergio Perez) and it... didn't work. In the entire season they didn't once score a podium finish, which by the measure of a team as successful as McLaren isn't good enough. In fact, it hadn't happened before since 1980. It was so disappointing that they've lost title Vodafone and aren't going to announce a new title sponsor any time soon. Still, they claim to have a bigger budget for this season - their 48th - than any before it. So maybe the new MP4-29 seen here will be a more competitive car in the hands of Jenson Button and Danish newbie Kevin Magnussen (son of GT-class Le Mans winner Jan).

"Where did everybody go? And why did they look a bit embarrassed?"
Yes, like the Williams FW36 we saw yesterday, this one has a phallic nose, although actually the more PC "anteater" comparison actually works better on the McLaren, because of that little mouth on the end. More disappointing than their refusal to boldly try a prettier nose is that they haven't done anything to their livery at all. Previously it was chrome silver because of the Vodafone sponsorship (you'll find the same colour scheme on a Vodafone-sponsored Holden in Aussie V8 Supercars), but Vodafone are gone now, giving them complete freedom to do whatever they wanted. They could have an orange livery like they did when the eponymous Bruce McLaren was at the helm, or a white livery with red details to recall their previous turbo car, the 1988 MP4/4 that annihilated everyone and won 15 out of 16 races (the odd one out being Monza where both retired and a Ferrari won). But no, they've gone for bare silver with black wings.

They are now sponsored by... themselves. Actually, the driver's first names are supposedly going to be where "MP4-29" is
To be fair, they first started using silver when they started their mostly-successful partnership with Mercedes-Benz, and this is the final year of that partnership, one that's given them the 1998 constructor's championship and three driver's titles in '98-99 with Mika Hakkinen and of course in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton. Perhaps then the silver is for that reason. In 2015, they will start getting engines from Honda, who like the new rules and will be back in F1 as a supplier of V6 Turbo hybrid power units exclusively to McLaren, after the factory team pulled out at the end of 2008. Perhaps the livery will change then.

From this angle the black heat shielding around the exhaust makes it look like an angry cyclops. Or I'm crazy.
What else can I mention to pad this out? Well, Kevin Magnussen has been promoted from reserve driver to a proper driver, meaning he will actually get to drive the real car. Son of Jan Magnussen, who has raced for a long time in a variety of series from F1 to NASCAR and now races Corvettes in endurance racing, Kevin has been under McLaren's wing since 2009 and follows in his father's footsteps by racing for the Surrey-based team. He will partner Jenson Button, who sadly lost his father John not long ago. John was a great character in the garage and will be missed by a lot of people.

The McLaren logo on the sidepods is the only source of colour on this thing at all...
Actually there is something else I can use to fit a paragraph between these pictures: team principal Martin Whitmarsh is no longer in charge at McLaren. He wasn't present at the launch of this car (for the first time in 25 years) and will be replaced - surprisingly - by Eric Boullier from Lotus. Meanwhile, former team principal and current McLaren Automotive boss Ron Dennis has assumed Whitmarh's other position as McLaren Group CEO. Clearly then, they have decided that the problems last season weren't just to be found in the wind tunnel or on track...

You can look at the MP4-29 from any angle you want by going to their official page here, or if you don't want to install some obscure plugin you can see a quick 360 in this video:


Finally, here are the rest of the official images and another 360 screen-print:



It doesn't get any better from other angles, does it? Oh well...
You know what they say, a racing car gets more beautiful if it's winning races.

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