Thursday, 31 January 2013

McLaren MP4-28 Continues Smooth-Nosed Sexiness

2013 McLaren MP4-28
So you've all seen the Lotus E21 with its stepped nose and daring red sidepods. Well, the second 2013 F1 car has been unveiled this morning, and it features only one of the above things. McLaren have continued their avoidance of the "platypus nose" while improving air flow under the car by raising the front end to the same height as everyone else, thanks to the new allowance of a non-structural "vanity panel" to arch over the step. McLaren don't do ugly, you see. The new car will of course be piloted by Jenson Button - now the most experienced driver in the sport after the departure of Michael Schumacher - and Sergio Perez, who's only about to start his third season and has already impressed enough to ascend to a top team for 2013.

Like Lotus, McLaren have gone for a lower "Coandă Effect" exhaust exit. The Coandă Effect is when a jet of air is attracted towards a nearby surface, meaning that clever shaping of the exhaust area and the rear end of the bodywork can bend the airflow out of the exhausts towards the diffuser, recouping some of the effect lost by the banning of 2011's directly exhaust-blown diffusers. This little trick was introduced by McLaren last year, and many teams now use a developed version, including the Surrey organisation. There are also other detail changes to the sidepods (including a lump on the tip of the side air intakes like the 2011 Ferrari) and the wings.

The Vanity Plate is extremely well-integrated, with no noticeable join lines.
Jenson Button assured people that while it looks very much the same, underneath it's very different. One major change to the MP4-28 is the change from pushrod to pullrod front suspension, something Ferrari tried last year. Pullrod suspension - already used by all teams for the rear wheels - is effectively a pushrod system that's upside-down, lowering the Centre of Gravity. It's thought that the MP4-27 of last year didn't go for a high nose because of the improved CoG of a lower one, so perhaps they compensated for the more aerodynamically-efficient high nose with the lower pullrod front suspension, wherein the rods seen in the picture that go downwards from the wheels pull on a hinge when the wheel moves up, which in turn compresses the spring (diagram here, pullrods in yellow). This is why you can't see springs sticking out of the cars, which would make a lot of drag and be dangerous in a collision. We'll have to see if it pays off for them as it's not a common setup (before the Ferrari F2012 it had been 11 years since a car had used it, and it was a lowly Arrows car), and Ferrari got off to a slow start with it last season. Although to be fair, they had other problems with it too.

There's not a great deal else to say at this point, so, er... here are some more pictures.

A quick comparison I threw together. They might not quite be to scale.
Oh look, another energy drink sponsor.
Y'know, I'm not even sure there is an actual Vanity Panel on here. It looks like they've just not put a step in the nose...
I'm pretty sure that's a camera pointing rearwards. Speaking of cameras, there are more photos here.
Considering their love of smooth surfaces, that's a pretty ugly sidepod intake...
There was talk of a special 50th Anniversary livery or logo, but no such things are to be found. A bit of a shame really...
The two drivers in McLaren's 50th year: Checo and... Butto? No I don't think that nickname would work...
How will these two guys get along? How will they do in the championship? Will all McLaren's pit stops go well this year? The Australian Grand Prix weekend is still 42 days away, so until then look out for other F1 reveals over the coming week!

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