McLaren experiments with new wheelbase

McLaren has revealed that it is experimenting with a shorter wheelbase car this weekend in a bid to help boost its victory chances in the closing stages of the season

McLaren experiments with new wheelbase

Fresh from its breakthrough win in Hungary four weeks ago, McLaren has continued its aggressive development plans for the MP4-24 - and part of that has included an evaluation of a shorter wheelbase car that it thinks will help it at the forthcoming races.

The new car caused a major headache for the team in Valencia, however, because there was no spare nose for it after Lewis Hamilton spun early in second practice - meaning he had to sit out the remainder of the session.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "Like everyone we have had a shut-down between the last race and this race, so that has given an extra challenge to everyone at all the factories.

"Everyone has been working hard; I am sure in all the teams, certainly in ours. We have got a series of upgrade packages as evident from today, though maybe not a sufficient number of those parts. But we had a new front wing package here that we tried with Heikki (Kovalainen) this morning.

"We have had some floor modifications which we tried with Lewis (Hamilton) and we were running a shorter wheel-base version of the car with Lewis today, really something that we are looking for the higher speed circuits, probably frankly for the benefit of Spa and beyond.

"We are still pushing hard on this year's car. I think everyone is. That is just how competitive Formula One is today. You have to continue to improve every race but clearly we are in a slightly different position from Ross and Red Bull as we have got to concentrate and make sure that we come out of the box next year with a quick car. There is a tremendous amount of effort to do that as well."

Speaking about the impact of Hamilton being forced out of practice after damaging his nose, Whitmarsh said he was more frustrated than anything by the situation.

"We knew that if you change the wheel base you have to change the floor, the nose and the front wing assembly as well as we had moved the front axle position," he said.

"In doing that we had insufficient parts. Lewis damaged the nose cone at the start of P2 and we have got parts that are literally in transit here. I don't feel embarrassed about it. I feel frustrated. There are some issues in Formula One for all the sensible prudent reasons that we have progressively cut down testing, the number of things that result from that, is that one we have got to be concerned about developing young drivers in the future."

He added: "We are just pushing hard to develop the car, use Fridays as a test day and on this particular situation we were unfortunately left not being able to run. It is frustrating as I say, not embarrassing but I think both drivers are fairly comfortable where the car is and I am sure tomorrow the circuit will have evolved a little bit more and I think we can be competitive. But it is not nice having to sit there for nearly an hour-and-half not being able to run the cars."

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