Like other F1 teams, McLaren publically unveiled its latest Formula 1 car -- the MP4-25 -- this week.
The MP4-25 is as different from last year’s MP4-24 as that car was from its MP4-23 predecessor. Drastic rule changes implemented over the past two years have kept engineers on their toes to ensure their cars remain competitive. Last year, the FIA drastically revised the aerodynamic regulations, requiring a smaller rear wing and a larger front wing. A new ban on in-race refueling forced the use of a larger fuel tank, which in turn required the car’s wheelbase to grow. Subsequently, McLaren redesigned its cooling system and electrical architecture to accommodate the tank.
Apart from the stretched wheelbase, McLaren says the MP4-25 is an aerodynamic evolution over last year’s car. The team took the pieces they found effective near the end of the last season (when the MP4-24 finally started to become competitive) and applied them to the new car. One of the primary changes to the MP4-25 for the start of this season is the double diffuser at the rear of the car, which sparked great controversy early in the season last year. Other aerodynamic evolutions from last year include the rear wing, which sports a dorsal fin in its center.
Although no longer affiliated with Mercedes-Benz, the German automaker continues to supply the team with its powertrain. The MP4-25 uses a 2.4-liter V-8, which revs to (restricted) 18,000 rpm and puts its astonishing (and unlisted) power down through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Unlike last year, no KERS devices will be used on any car in the field.
The MP4-25’s body is again a carbon fiber composite monocoque. Both the engine and transmission are fully stressed members of the frame, further helping to reduce the car’s mass. Because the cars must now start with a race’s worth of fuel onboard, the MP4-25’s starting weight is significantly heavier. The car’s minimum weight has also increased to 1364 pounds -- 30 pounds more than last year’s car.
Look for the McLaren MP4-25 to make its on-track debut next week on February 3 at the pre-season test in Valencia, Spain. The 2010 Formula 1 season kicks off around 6 weeks later on March 14 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.