Woking-based McLaren reveals the new MP4-29 set to challenge the 2014 Formula One Championship after a disappointing 2013 season. The team sets their hopes on a new car described as 'a sensible and calculated response to the new regulations' to change their fortunes for the season ahead.
"A team with a fantastic heritage like McLaren is always faced with the challenge of continually winning races and championships. Equally, there's a responsibility to move the organization - and our processes - forwards. In fact, we'll be doing just that during 2014: pushing ahead with an incredible amount of effort, analysis and commitment on the racetrack, but also making changes away from the track that will reap a greater dividend in the long term," says Jonathan Neale, McLaren Managing Director.
The MP4-29 will be powered by the new Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid 1.6-liter 24-valve V6 turbo recently revealed by the German automaker. The engine will be mated to an eight-speed gearbox. It was described as "loud and but sweet sounding" by Andy Cowell, Managing Director for Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines.
"For 2014, our aim is for continuous development; we'll be refining and strengthening the car and the organisation throughout the year, so you'll see a rapid turnover of parts and ideas on the car as we, like every team, wrestle with the many unique challenges of these new regulations," says Sam Michael, McLaren Sporting Director.
The car will be driven by 2009 F1 Champion Jenson Button and Danish driver Kevin Magnussen, who comes fresh from his Formula Renault 3.5 series championship win and is part of McLaren's Young Driver Programme. Belgian Soffel Vandoorne, who also comes from the team's development program has been selected as the team's reserve driver.
For 2014, McLaren will once again pair a world champion with a rookie driver; a repeat of 2007 when they paired Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. According to Neale the pairing will be "A win-win situation, where each driver will motivate and inform the other."
"I really think the beauty of our driver line-up comes from its strength and structure through sheer contrast. In Jenson, we have Formula 1's unofficial ambassador, somebody who provides us with an unprecedented databank of experience; we can really work with him as we learn together how to develop and refine this year's car. In Kevin, I see a raw, unfettered enthusiasm and a fearsome work ethic. His arrival has been a terrific motivator for the entire team, and I've been really pleased and impressed by the way he's thrown himself into the process. While he'll naturally need time to acclimatize, we're undoubtedly of the opinion that he's ready for F1," commented Neale.
Apart from regulation changes, the team also faces major organizational changes with the recent firing of Team Principal and CEO Matthew Whitmarsh, after the return of McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis as CEO. A new Team Principal has yet to be named, but will most likely be revealed in February as stated by Dennis during the announcement of his appointment.
The team also faces a period of transition, their partnership with engine supplier Mercedes-Benz ending this season after 20 years. McLaren begins a new partnership with Honda in 2015. Honda is not a newcomer to the team as it previously supplied engines to McLaren from 1998 to 1992 during the glory days of the team with the late Brazilian F1 legend Ayrton Senna.