McLaren MP4-26 launch, 2011

McLaren MP4-26 launch – first pictures

2011 F1 carsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

McLaren MP4-26 launch, 2011

McLaren have launched their 2011 F1 car in Berlin. Here are the first pictures of the car.

McLaren staged an unusual launch in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz. Competition winners brought different pieces of the car and they were assembled together in front of the public and press.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “I think today’s innovative launch demonstrates the enthusiasm within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to engage the general public; to show them that our sport is intense and exciting and that we’re very keen to showcase Formula 1 to the wider world.”

As well as featuring KERS and an adjustable rear wing, as permitted by the 2011 rules, the MP4-26 sports an unusual U-shaped sidepod arrangement. McLaren say the layout is to direct air to the rear of the car more efficiently.

McLaren will conduct a shakedown test with the car at the Idiada Proving Ground in Spain on Tuesday, before arriving at Jerez for the second F1 test two days later.

You can also view the McLaren MP4-26 in 3D on the team’s website.

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Images ?? F1 Fanatic,

392 comments on “McLaren MP4-26 launch – first pictures”

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  1. I’m not really sure what to think. It’s a very skinny-looking car, which makes the whole thing look longer. It’s also got a very industrial look compared to its predecessors. I was instantly reminded of the Tumbler in Batman Begins compared to the Batmobile in Batman & Robin.

    I loved the way they built the car in the middle of the square. I just wish they would have given us a heads-up as to what was happening – I thought it was an ad to begin with, and it took me a long time to work out what was actualy going on.

    1. I don’t like the look of the nose being so much lower than the top of the front wheels. It almost looks Indy-Car esque. I am also disappointed with the fact they’ve not got the red stripe along the top of the engine cover. It looks too boring without it.

      But I am loving this no shark-fin-to-rear wing rule!

      1. “I don’t like the look of the nose being so much lower than the top of the front wheels.”

        WHAT?!? The nose is still way too high. You like those ridiculously high noses??
        That’s the most surprising statement I’ve ever read. They are plain disgusting, come on!!!
        Mercedes nose = floods of vomit.

        1. WHAT?!? The nose is still way too high. You like those ridiculously high noses??
          That’s the most surprising statement I’ve ever read. They are plain disgusting, come on!!!
          Mercedes nose = floods of vomit.

          I don’t mean the nosecone itself; I mean the part of the car level with the front wheels. It reminds me too much of an Indy-Car – and that is by no means a good thing.

          1. Oh, so you mean the fact that it is flat on its length?
            I love it – it reminds my of the 90’s Benettons!

          2. I agree. That makes McLaren look really ugly.

          3. High nose, narrow track and grooved, narrower tyres – THE WORST DESIGN CHANGES TO HAPPEN TO F1 CARS. Period.

            The grooved tyres are gone, but the other elements are still there along with other ugly bits like turning vanes and mini barge boards. When will these change? Can’t wait for 2013.

            Meanwhile, how about race pitstops by competition winners for McLaren? A sure recipe to lose the championship.:)

          4. Not a good thing for you, but some of us actually like Indy Cars :P

          5. Ditto Joey, love the side-on view

      2. miguelF1O (@)
        4th February 2011, 22:49

        you right, all team went for a higher nose this year cause of the front suspension and to feed the floor even better, it seem like mclaren forgot the suspension troubles they had

    2. I like that idea as well. Something new, I just hope the guys get in it in the end, do a few doughnuts on the logo, then pick up Withmarsh from somewhere and drive off to the second test :-D
      Now i have the live feed, that interview with Lewis is horrible, how many times does he want to mention the sponsor name?

      Did you get yourself a Button or Lewis signed cap as well Keith?

      1. @ BasCB

        I completely disagree with your thoughts. I think the launch, if you can call it one, was totally lifeless.

        And the interview by Lewis was the only good part about the whole thing.

        1. It was wierd, I put on the live feed just after 11 UK time, to see mechanics putting on wheels and a nosecone. :/ I thought it was a behind the scenes but it was good for the public to see rather than a dust sheet removal…

        2. LOL sorry to get involved, but do you EVER agree with anyone? It just seems that every single one of your posts (especially to BasCB) seem to start with “I completely disagree…”. As someone said earlier, it’s like a comedy double act… :)

          1. The worst looking car on the grid…

    3. your an idiot…it looks awesome and different to the others which is a good thing….and you thought it was an advert ha….your opinion is crap, it doesn’t look industrial at all

      1. “you’re”

        I normally wouldn’t bother correcting people, but I’ve decided to make an exception.

        1. yeah YOUR!! an idiot too

          1. You need some anger management sessions…. Plus possibly some English lessons….

          2. And a warn perhaps…

          3. Hi Darren,

            Posters like you aren’t welcome around here, sorry.

            Hope you manage to sort your issues out.

          4. That kind of aggression and plain rude comments are not the norm on this site, dont know where you normally post/read but you’ll be welcome if you reign in the aggression and make your comments relevant. Otherwise I am sure you wont be missed.

          5. got you all talking though didn’t i…….

      2. y o u [apostrophe] r e

        For what it’s worth, I think the best thing is that it’s different to most of the other cars. Makes things interesting – let’s see how it goes.

      3. “No swearing, insults, advertising or racial, sexual or similar discrimination allowed.”

        Have a nice day.

      4. Hey be cool Darren. This is not a drunkard pub. Be polite and talk what you want.

    4. I thought it was an ad to begin with

      You thought? You were propably not the only one. it was basically a thirty minute vodafone ad

    5. miguelF1O (@)
      4th February 2011, 22:46

      admit it this is even uglyier thatn the last one i love the concept on the radiators it reminds me of the f10 and the 09 bmw but much more aggressive

  2. A longer nose. I like it.

  3. Pretty strange reveal. :p

    Car looks great, but I will miss the shark fin on the McLaren, I’ve always hated the all-chrome top.

    1. I thought I was the only person who really liked the look of the “shark fin”

      1. No, you’re not – I liked it on the McLaren at least.

      2. No, you are not ;)

      3. I liked them all.

        1. I liked them too. Sad they are gone :(

    2. miguelF1O (@)
      5th February 2011, 12:47

      really, how can this look great? impossible last year was ugly this years car is horrendous (maybe because im sick of the paintjob) im not seeing any advance on aerodynamics on this car, they are going to lack downforce like last year.not good enough

      1. so the whole U shape side pods designed to channel the air better to te rear of the car doesnt come under aerodynamics?

        Ok i have always been a McLaren fan and even more so that there are two british divers. Hope the car is as good as it looks long wheel base does take geting used to but overall well done !!!!

  4. Very interesting side pods! car looks amazing got to be the most pretty car!

    1. Very, im sure theres some scienece in there that someone can explain to us!

      1. The side pods are insane, like nothing i’ve ever seen. Well, if thats the brave bit I don’t mind. Yay, hope it goes like the clappers.

        Want to see some other angles now.

        1. The side pods to raises a question, but look interesting.

          1. The ’96 prost and ferrari cars tried out similar sidepod concepts but nothing as extreme as this. Though I am totally clueless about the double airbox

          2. Yeah, Zecks, it’s nothing new.
            The 1996 Ferraris had that concept:
            The Benettons in 1995 as well as Ligiers/Prosts had a similar design for years.

          3. And the airbox is a completely old, rehashed idea. The cars of the 70s and 80s had all sorts of airboxes like that:

          4. Yeah but i unlike the 70s cars which had split air inlets, I don’t think that both feed the engine. vjanik suggests that it might be used to cool their KERS mechanism, but i think (or rather hope) that it is actually some kind of bonkers evolution of the F duct which allows the diffuser to be stalled.

        2. yeah, L Shaped.. crazy!

      2. I imagine they are shaped like that in an effort to channel air to the back of the car better as the better you can control the way the airflow exits the rear then the better you can control downforce and drag.

    2. best looking F1 car ever


        Similar sidepodxs mid nineties. Especially the Ligier

        1. for me the sidepod looks similar to 90s ferrari , not sure with downforce of the car and there will be more turbulence so may be difficult to handle the car at high speed corner,can somebody explain ?

      2. how long you have been fallowing f1?

    3. miguelF1O (@)
      5th February 2011, 12:53

      you are just trying to start an discussion theres no way this is the prettiest car i dont believe in you.

    4. You know, I’ve just realized where I have seen similar sidepods before: the Renault R28!

      Just the other way around really, but similar enough.

  5. Have you seen the side pods yet… They look mad.

    1. Not as mad as the airbox!!!

      1. It doesn’t have the mandatory camera yet, so it probably looks weirder than it actually is.

        But interesting launch certainly.

    2. Sidepods are crazy. They are so high, really give the area around the floor and underneath them a huge amount of space. Look too high, but they are slo very narrow. And the area around the diffuser is so neat, so empty, so clean and clear. Its also pretty interesting to see they dont have a central beam to activate the adjustable rear wing. Exhausts look pretty interesting also…

      Look forward to it going around the track; aside from Renault’s (and Red Bull’s) exhausts, this is definitely the most radical design. Wonder if it makes it faster or slower!

      1. a few of the teams seem to have a wing without a central activator williams/ mercedes. for the life of me i can’t understand out how they it works!

    3. I don’t think the side pods are that special, it looks like a solution that is being used on LMP1 cars and has been for some time now.

  6. No more F-Duct :*(

    1. It’s banned.

      1. I knew someone would say that! :P

        I know it is banned but I still miss it. Great piece of engineering

        1. Yes, but who knows what other piece of dastardly invention they have the car armed with ;)

      2. Not banned per se, more the old way of operating it by having a pipe run to the rear wing slot is banned… but F1 designers are cunning in interperating the rules. ;)

      3. Gosh how would we manage without your insight PM?

    2. I’m glad the F-Duct is banned. It means that we don’t have to look of those stupid shark fins.

  7. woah keith i hope you’re not as fast as this in the bedroom ;)

    love love love this car already. the sidepods are crazy..!!

    1. steady on nemo!

  8. Love it – sidepods are wild, clever shaping. Wonder what the large extra top intake behind the engine intake is for?

    1. Probably either for the oil radiator or to cool KERS…

      1. I just looked at some pics of them putting the thing together. It’s amazing that they did that. I’m sure the rival teams must have liked seeing all the internals.

        In the pics i saw a little radiator quite close to that extra engine intake hole thingy. so probably is for cooling something as you mention.

        1. I bet there were a few internals that were placed as a red herring to confuse and send there rivals on wild goose chases. I find it hard to believe that mcClaren would be so transparent.

          Awesome car, roll on next week, lets see it on the move

          1. My suspicion too.

          2. yes aparently the internals on show were all fakes made of plastic.

          3. Chief Macca Fan
            8th February 2011, 16:07

            i agree,whitmarsh said th sae thing,…macca havent really showed their hand just yet…bt i hope the new lower front nose proves to be ingenious and blows away redbull and the tifosi : ))

    2. The second air intake is to cool the oil and hydraulics systems

  9. The sidepods look awesome lol!

  10. Front wing diffuser as well, I like the look of the sidepods very unique.

    1. nico winning 2011. You are even crazier that the mclaren sidepods.

      1. Nico will win if he gets a title contending car for the first time, just like the other world champions got in their careers.

        Keep jabbing at me if you want, your guess is as good as mine for this season so don’t start tacking the mick just yet.

        1. I actually think this is Nico’s year. Mercedes have spent the longest developing this years car out of the top teams.

          1. Proof?

            Each of the top teams throughout the year are working with their current model as well as also looking at the new model. That just how it is. So, I would not say Mercedes was working the longest, but rather was more concentrated on creating new than improving previous, which I hope will let them to make top 3 teams into top 4 teams.

        1. @Typeblank, I think what djdave is on about, is that Mercedes stopped developing the 2010 car earlier then the rest and focused for 2011 more so, around about july-august i read up i think?

          Didn’t you schumi fans/Rosberg haters say that last year? Oh yer lol…

  11. I wonder how well the view to the sides is, sitting in the cockpit trying to see if Vettel is trying to run into your sidepod ….

    1. Maybe the shape gives more bounce to deflect flying Vettels?

    2. The high sides will probably be reinforced just for the opportunity to bash him off.

      I was looking at the live feed from Berlin just now. Button had a nice answer to questions about the buttons in the car making it complicated. He said, there is a lot of Buttons in the car, even more in his one!

  12. Very tight rear of the car slight curvature on the back wing beveled edge havent seen that before on a car this year, has the same ridge on the engine plate as the ferrari.

  13. Those sidepods are really irritating me, they dont look nice to my eyes. same with the airbox. But it does look fast and most importantly, different.

    the board behind the front wing is interesting as is the sidepods HEAVY undercut and floating look.

    I am a bit tired of the livery. Not a very attractive car but it does look fast.

    1. Its seems like a make or break design. They definitely have come up with the most innovative and intricate chassis design. The airbox, sidepods and front wing look seriously radical. I have a gut feeling that this car is going to be really quick.

      1. Looks very radical indeed. Don’t really like the looks of it, but well, if its fast its good for them.

      2. The sweeping body work between the pods and main chassis looks like it’ll improve their rear downforce a lot, something Lewis has complained about for years now. I kind of suspect the car has some clever (sneaky) hidden stuff too. But the main thing is it looks adaptable over the season, which was their sticking point last year. If you’ve got McLaren’s resources, you’ve got to be able to adapt.

  14. Some big gap between the sidepods to the flooring…

    1. And the overhang runs all the way to the back. What you want to bet they have the exhausts set up to flow into that channel.

      1. Yes and if you look, there is a line where the floor and sidepods seem joined together, you can also see a spot that is likely where a front exhaust would be. I’m willing to bet that is a dummy panel and when removed there will be a deeply undercut channel to funnel the air from the front exhausts. I hope it is so because it would be genius, I’ve got a strong feeling McLaren is going to cause the other big teams some real pain this year.

  15. Cheers Keith! Any signs of a blown diffuser arrangement?

    1. When they were building the car it appeared to have regular exhaust exits, but i have no doubt they have the renault exhausts in development

      1. ‘Hope they’ll understand it ;-)

      2. I agree Silverkeg. The exhausts looked fake. They are too far away from the diffuser and they were a strange matt grey colour.

        McLaren had me woried for a moment that they may have went conservative with their blown diffuser. Although how much time is there in the BD’s now that it’s single?

        1. I’ve just read that the engine and exhaust headers shown here are, in fact, plastic. Amazing, really. Think of all the time and money that had to go into the manufacturing of these stage props.

          1. Thats how they prototype anyway. I think James Allen had an article on his blog where his visited the Team Lotus (Lotus Racing at the time) new garage and they had all the components mocked up in plastic, engine and all! Really interesting read.

  16. waiting to see more pics.. looks like a beauty so far !!!

  17. Is it just me, or does this car seem totally disproportionate? It’s very skinny and very long. The sidepods are very high, and the airbox very low. Everything about the car seems to contradict everything else ever-so-slightly. It’s like one of those cheap 3D-puzzles you find in a two-dollar shop. There’s so much going on that you don’t really know where to look first; everything keeps drawing your eye all at once. I really don’t know where to begin with it. It looks industrial, it looks aggressive, and it looks a little unfinished.

    Still, I like it.

    1. Looks pretty proportionate & finished in my subjective opinion PM.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by unfinished… ? I think it mostly looks deceptively simple. By far the cleanest lines of the cars we’ve seen. We’ll see if it’s quick, but it’s my favourite 2011 car – by far.

    3. It’s certainly a fun car huh, not sure if I’m convinced but you never know with radical till it starts going fast.

      The one thing thats worrying me is, where are the exhausts? Let them have figured out how to feed the diffuser properly this time, just… please.

      1. If it goes fast.

    4. Unfinished? With the amount of in-season development that goes on, are F1 ever really “finished”? Anyway, those sidepods are certainly one of the most distinctive features of any of this year’s cars. I’m also pleased that the shark fin has gone.

    5. Not so much unfinished as ready to be finished. Looks like they’ve got some good design concepts to work from in testing and over the season. The crucial factor I think is KERS. McLaren know they’re way ahead in developing the system for F1 and have probably moved on a ‘generation’ in their own development. If so it will be very difficult for other teams to catch up.

    6. I rather think it’s a bit of a stunner. Love the the low-rise pods, hope it pans out for them. Love em or hate em McLaren seem push the envelope a lot harder than most and THAT is was F1 has always been about for me.

      Oh and much kudos to Martin Whitmarsh and the team for the fun launch as well, we might all be living in testing times (pun intended), but a little theatre in the most theatrical of sports is very welcome in my book.

  18. Looks like the complete lower rear wing is missing. Probalby will be connected to a much more complicated diffusor than the simple tray shown in the presentation today.

    1. @ BasCB

      The complete lower rear wing is not missing. It is clearly visible in this photograph

      And might i remind you that double decker diffusers are banned this year. So your idea of a complicated diffusor doesn’t arise at all. None whatsoever.

      1. MagillaGorilla
        5th February 2011, 2:10

        You’re wrong the lower part of the wing is missing, and also you’re wrong again because it is exhaust blown diffusers that are banned this year it was last year that the double decker diffuser first implimented by Brawn was ban.

        1. MagillaGorilla
          5th February 2011, 2:29

          actually rob is right it’s the wing being lowered and looking more flush than anything.

    2. I think it looks like the lower element of the rear wing is missing because the adjustable top plane is angled downwards so it practically meets the one underneath.

    3. Very likley Bas, although, the rear crash structure seems more aerodynamically shaped than I’ve seen others. Quite likley the diffuser will see further development as well.

      Seems the teams have all decided that the diffuser must be fed above and below. Some are using the starter whole, as Ferrari’s fire showed. Redbull has found a loop whole, an Renaults gone all radical.

      But it does seem like people have revealed their hands quite early, so it’ll be interesting to see whats changed by Barcelona, an indeed by Bahrain.

  19. The strangest launch I’ve ever seen. It makes me wonder how much of the real MP4-26 we have seen.

  20. 3D model is up at

    Looks awesome.

    1. Looks like McLaren liked the limo-look from last year and went for a high, long stretched back of the airbox again.

      that 3D model is pretty good, shame you can’t pause it. And they must be hiding something for the diffusor, why else not show it at all.

      1. you can drive it about too which is fun :)

      2. You can choose manual orbit to pause it.

      3. @ BasCB

        You are wrong to think that McLaren like the limo-look. Its because of the aerodynamic philosophy that the have adopted that the car looks a tad lengthier, not because they wanted it that way.

        You are again wrong to think that they are hiding something about the diffuser. may I remind you that the double decker diffusers are banned this year.

        1. Can you give it a rest with constantly responding to BasCB’s posts with overly aggressive and/or patronising comments?

          Nobody is impressed with your obvious ‘expert’ knowledge, refusal to think before you flame someone (you honestly didn’t get the reference to the ‘Buttons’ joke someone mentioned?), and inability to produce a reasonable argument when you disagree with someone.

          Wait, are you Luca DiM in disguise?! Keith, I claim your ‘Troll of the Day’ prize.

        2. Dear god mate whats your problem? Attacking everything he says. I suppose you work for McLaren your Lordship, you seem to be well in there! Just because people say things that are a bit ill-judged doesn’t mean you need to go biting their heads off and playing mr smart ar*e about it- dont take yourself so seriously. And how can you shoot his idea of a more complex rear diffuser down with such conviction? McLaren could quite easily have exploited yet another loophole that allows them to be bit more creative- we see stuff like this happening every year

          1. Maybe it’s Ron! ;¬)

        3. Unipart sounds like my ex girlfriend…. Nag nag nag..

        4. Unipart I think you’ll find that BasCB’s contributions are always welcomed and respected as the man does have a certain degree of knowledge.

          You on the other hand – you appear to always have something to say, very little to contribute however.

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