McLaren-Honda 2015 car launch has Formula 1 rivals intrigued

The stuttering start of McLaren and Honda's first public Formula 1 test last year has not stopped Thursday's 2015 car launch being the winter's most anticipated

McLaren-Honda 2015 car launch has Formula 1 rivals intrigued

McLaren has already been singled out by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo as the team with the biggest potential to surprise, and all eyes are now on what its new partnership with Honda produces.

Details about the design of the new car - even what colour it will be this year - have been kept a closely guarded secret despite the rampant interest and speculation.

But there have been clues about what we should expect when photographs of the MP4-30 are finally released.

The most striking visual difference will of course be the nose, for F1's new regulations have forced all teams to modify the pointed extensions that were so heavily criticised last year.

McLaren technical director Tim Goss said in a 2015 car teaser video this week that its nose "looked sensible" - and it will be fascinating to see if the team has adopted the thumb-type extension seen on the Williams or the step solution that Lotus chose.

RED BULL INFLUENCE?

Having had the best engine last year with Mercedes, it was clear McLaren's aerodynamic performance was behind its rivals.

An overhaul of its structure - allied to the capture of chief engineer Peter Prodromou from Red Bull - has been integral in a push to change that for 2015.

We already saw Red Bull-inspired front wing designs last year, and perhaps the MP4-30 will feature the kind of tightly packaged rear ends that have been commonplace from RBR in recent years too.

Certainly Goss suggested that a stand-out feature of the 2015 car was how well it had been packaged around its new power unit.

"The chassis is much tighter," he said. "Honda has done a fantastic job in packaging everything in such a tight space."

HONDA HISTORY

But the real intrigue surrounds what Honda can do on its return to F1.

That first test in Abu Dhabi last November was far from ideal, as reliability problems limited running.

Was McLaren-Honda's first test a disaster?

But Honda is unlikely to have taken what happened lightly and will have invested a lot in ensuring things are better when it returns to the track at Jerez.

Having watched from the sidelines last season, Honda has had the advantage of not only knowing what performance benchmark it is aiming for - but also having got a few design concept clues.

As Goss pointed out, there has been proper evaluation of whether or not to adopt the Mercedes-style split turbo/compressor, and in-depth discussion with McLaren to ensure that cooling requirements are absolutely ideal.

He said Honda's challenges included "trying to work out whether you put the compressor and turbine at the back of the power unit or somehow you split it and have the compressor at the front and turbine at the back.

"And where you will position radiators so you balance out cooling left to right on the car, which is terms of aerodynamics, makes things quite tricky."

Honda's successful F1 history with McLaren has left rivals wary of writing it off.

Goss thinks the opposition has good reason to be anxious.

"Honda are so dedicated to the cause," he said. "They took it to a new level back in the 1990s and they are absolutely committed to doing the same again."

All eyes are now on what Woking delivers.

shares
comments
Daniel Ricciardo says F1 drivers would relish 1000bhp engines
Previous article

Daniel Ricciardo says F1 drivers would relish 1000bhp engines

Next article

1000bhp: The latest cure-all F1 imposter

1000bhp: The latest cure-all F1 imposter
The inconvenient truth about F1’s ‘American driver’ dream Plus

The inconvenient truth about F1’s ‘American driver’ dream

OPINION: The Formula 1 grid's wait for a new American driver looks set to continue into 2023 as the few remaining places up for grabs - most notably at McLaren - look set to go elsewhere. This is despite the Woking outfit giving tests to IndyCar aces recently, showing that the Stateside single-seater series still has some way to go to being seen as a viable feeder option for F1

How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge Plus

How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge

While creating a car that is woefully off the pace is a nightmare scenario for any team, it inadvertently generates the test any engineering department would relish: to turn it into a winner. As Mercedes takes on that challenge in Formula 1 this season, McLaren’s former head of vehicle engineering reveals how the team pulled of the feat in 2009 with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Aug 15, 2022
The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Plus

The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate 
and devoid of the usual
 racing driver airs and graces,
 Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

Formula 1
Aug 13, 2022
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Plus

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Plus

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022