Thursday morning Vodafone McLaren Mercedes whipped back the cover on their newest Formula 1 machine, the Mercedes-powered MP4-28.
Drivers Jenson Button and McLaren newcomer Sergio Perez were on hand for the event. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of McLaren’s involvement in F1, so the unveiling had a bit of an extra festive feeling to it.
The livery on the MP4-28 looks similar to last year’s McLaren car, but a pull-rod front suspension and modesty panel to cover the stepped nose are among the most notable changes to the car. Lotus F1 Team, the only other team to have launched their 2013 ride thus far, chose to forgo a modesty panel sighting a desire to avoid extra weight as the reason. As with all Formula 1 cars though, the changes under the skin of the car will make the most difference. Said Button, who is in his fourth year at McLaren, “This year’s car is the best we’ve ever made”.
Button finished fifth in the Driver’s Championship last season, right behind his then teammate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton left McLaren to join Mercedes AMG Petronas following the 2012 season.
“Checo” Perez, who comes to McLaren by way of Sauber, will be taking the seat left open by that move. Checo finished 10th in the Driver’s points in 2012 and, if his previous comments are any indicator, plans on finishing much higher this year. If McLaren wants to match or improve on their performance last year, when they finished third in the Constructor’s Championship, they will certainly need more out of Perez. If he been with the team last season they would have wound up in fourth behind Lotus instead.
Button is the most experienced driver currently on the Formula 1 roster, having made his F1 debut in 2000. McLaren will count on the veteran Brit to coach up his young Mexican teammate during 2013 in order to have strong showings on the track.
McLaren is a perennial threat and I expect nothing less out of them this year. A repeat at third in the Constructor’s should be their goal out of the gate. Anything less will be a disappointment for the Woking, UK based team.
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