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McLaren put together the MP4-26 in Berlin // An unusual launch for the Woking squad's new car

Published by Christine

McLaren break new ground with their U-shaped sidepods
Credit: McLaren

McLaren offered up their new car for 2011 during an original launch event at the Vodafone HQ in Berlin. Rather than simply pulling the covers off the car, McLaren put up a live stream on their site, showing four mechanics wheeling the base of the car into place. Gradually, fans and competition winners brought in the important pieces of the car, which the mechanics put together, eventually completing the MP4-26. They were just in time for the arrival of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who had a quick look at the car before posing for photos in front of their new chassis.

The car features some unique design elements, including very distinctive sidepods. Technical director at McLaren, Paddy Lowe, explains the design time they have put into the sidepod area:

The thinking behind that is to feed as much good-quality air as possible to the rear-lower main plane and the floor of the car. We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double-diffuser.

- Paddy Lowe

The MP4-26 also features a slightly longer wheelbase, but a lot of the best bits are being kept a secret for now. Although the car was revealed to the world with half the inside on show, a lot of the design elements were fake on the inside, so as not to give everything away all at once.

The launch came at the same time McLaren and Force India confirmed an extension of their partnership, with Force India using Mercedes engines and McLaren hydraulic and gearbox setups until the end of 2012.

After having a good look at the chassis, Button is feeling more positive about what he can achieve in the car:

I feel a lot more at home now, a lot lower in the car, more comfortable. I feel more like a part of the car. I haven't driven it yet of course, but I feel good. I am the limiting factor because I'm the taller driver. But I'm happy that my voice is being heard.

- Jenson Button

McLaren ran last year's car at the test in Valencia this week, but the new car will take over when testing moves on next week.

All content in the series F1 Launches 2011