McLaren MP4-26 launch, 2011

McLaren MP4-26 launch – first pictures

2011 F1 carsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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  1. Is it a double air-box?

    1. The rear opening will be for cooling the gearbox, along with some other accessories. Previous teams who have adopted this cooling arrangement have used a smaller opening.

      1. Renaults got one, they used their F-Duct feeding solution. McLaren have gone a different dirction clearly.

  2. Not a fan. Last years car looked great but this looks almost like they’ve tried to be a bit too radical, almost for the sake of being different.

    I’m thinking (and hoping :P) for a Ferrari F92 style flop.

    1. Eh? I don’t understand that, the sidepods are radical, but the nose, diffuser treatment, pretty much everything else isn’t.

      TO me it looks where they’ve found an area where they can improve airflow a lot. It’s only radical in that it looks a bit different, Ferrari had a less extreme version last year.

      I just want to now what they’ve done with the exhausts, that was the biggest thing last year, an I think it’s gonna be the most important thing again this season.

      1. From the side view the airbox and the nose looked more ‘radical’ than it actually is; and that was the only view I’d really seen when I posted that. My bad.

        I still dont like it, but it will be interesting to see how the other teams react over the course of the season. The sidepods seem like the kind of thing that would be obvious to designers. Would the extra surface area create more drag?

        1. The extra surface area will cause more induced drag but not much in the grand scheme of things especially if the function of the shape is to channel air to the back more effectively and helps to either cut drag (by smoothing the transition of upper and lower air) or increase downforce by channeling the upper air onto the rear wing arrangement.

      2. from the photos i think it looks like the exhaust comes out centrally from the rear- there’s a close up photo of it somewhere. But i suppose you don’t really know if they’re real or not from the launch- we’ll have to wait i guess…

    2. i agree. Was not that ferrari, the one capelli drove? Even the sidepods were vertical like this one.
      Not the most beautiful mclaren, “that’s for sure”.
      I read the comments of some fans, and i think they are trying to be positive, but it doesn’t give me a good feeling.

      1. It was the Ferrari that Ivan Capelli drove in 1992, without much success. That was configured around a bizarre double floor concept which Ferrari were never able to make work.

    3. I doubt they would spend millions on being radical ‘just for the sake of it’, if they don’t think it’ll be quicker

  3. Scarbs is gonna have a field day! :)

    1. Yes he is! I can’t wait to see what he says.

      1. suspense is killing me atm!!!… c’mon Scarbs :)

  4. I can sort of see why they only ran the new tyres on an old car during the test – three day swould have been plenty of time for the other teams’ spies to get plenty of pictures of the car to take away.

    Whether that is smoke and mirrors (a la Red Bull getting people to stand behind the car blocking the rear diffuser from view) to wrongfoot the other teams and distract them from more subtle and effective design features remains to be seen…

  5. If you look below the F on the Vodafone branding on the side pod there is a inlet? this is interesting it very subtle!

    1. I think it is very suspicious looking OLI. Maybe a dummy panel to hide a channel they will route the flow from the forward exhausts they are so rumored of having? If it is, it looks like it would flow back and perfectly feed the diffuser and beam wing area.

  6. NUTS! I love it! Yes reguler exhaust :/

    1. Where? Out the back? Just that one? I shouldn’t think so and I bleedin hope not. Seems unlikley apart from anything else.

      1. Has anyone seen the exhausts?

        1. They’ve been found. Possible fakes, but normally placed above the diffuser to feed the starter hole

  7. You can adjust all the settings and camera angles on the McLaren 3D model

  8. A very interesting solution for the sidepods, but I don’t understand why they opted for such aerbox design.

  9. here you go guys..

    last years lauch car compared to this.
    tried to scale it as best i can. this years wheelbase looks much longer..?

    1. also looks very ‘fat’ at the back. but i guess theres more to pack in this year right..?

      1. But in contrast, Williams have managed to reduce the back of their car to next to nothing, presumably packing in the same stuff.

    2. The wheelbase is probably the same, The 2010 car is squished in that comparison. The wheels are slightly ovals.

      1. i think its more the angle of the shot. if you look at the front wheel you can see more of the slick surface at 9 o’clock where as you cant see any at 3 o’clock.. if that makes sence :)

        1. No, it is. If that was true the 2011’s wheel should be more oval as there is more 9 o clock on that tyre than on the 2010 pic but it appears less oval. The rear tyre is pretty much straight on and the same in both pics and the 2010 is clearly more oval. This tiny amount of compresion over the lenth of the whole car adds up to a much shorter image.

      2. The wheelbase is indeed longer. The car as a whole is longer and probably has the longest nose of any car launched so far.

    3. Yeah I did the same. It doesn’t look any different from the side at all now does it?

      Apart from the F-duct of course.

    4. That has got to be one of the best optical illusions I’ve ever seen! The new sidepods look completely normal from the side on view!

    5. nice 1 nemo

  10. Second most extreme car of 2011? This thing is ugly as heck though, the sidepods are the worst I’ve ever seen on an F1 car. That double airbox looks kinda cool, but the front wing with the swooping element looks very strange, fragile, like it’ll break off at any minute. And where is their version of the FEE as everyone was suggesting they had?

    Trying hard not to say anything about F1 fans in a certain country and their tendency to over exaggerate the success of their drivers and cars…. Oops.

    1. I don’t seem to remember seeing anyone (British or otherwise) talking about the ‘success’ of a car which hasn’t even turned a wheel in public yet. Maybe you could come up with some more original digs at the ‘British bias’ of people who comment on this blog by Bahrain…

    2. Well, you can spot something of an opening prepared below the sidepod (look at the incredibly sharp picture Keith has of the sidepod), that migh be used for getting the exhaust opeing to the front.

      But I think they will rather do something at the backside of the car, maybe a bit like RBR. That diffusor looks pretty simle to me, so it might get some changes before Bahrain. And don’t worry about the front wing, it’s last years wing used in the last couple of races (the adjustable flap is a giveaway)

      1. I think the top element will stay though, figuring out how to split airflow round the front tyre took them ages. Only sorted it by Abu Dhabi.


        1. When they were wheeling the unclothed car along you could see the exhaust pipes routing backwards in a pretty standard way, I think they may come out of the open end of the sidepods close in to the body.

          I doubt McLaren are looking (yet) at copying Renault’s exhaust design. I doubt anyone is, until they see how quick the Renault can be.

          1. Apparently all of the internals in the car were “fake” plastic. i.e dummy internals are the rear or the car apparently. According to autosport.

            I must admit I did raise an eyebrow when i saw it coming along the concourse without an engine cover etc.

        2. Although they just said it doesn’t have the final exhaust configuration on it today, so who knows!

      2. @ BasCB

        There is nothing remotely to suggest what you have written here. I guess you are talking about these two photographs.

        is just looks like flash reflection to us. maybe you are imagining things about the front exhaust blow floor.

        You are again wrong when you say those were last years front wings. Maybe you didn’t watch the live feed, I did & I can say with conviction that those new front wings had something like blades underneath them, something like a mini-diffusor in itself.

        1. Dude,
          1, the wings are very simular to last years, especially the adustable front flap which is last years.

          2 you can’t have a diffuser on a wing. Diffusers expand air, Wings redirect it.

          3 There is an inlet beneath the side pod. Look at the car… from the side.

          4 Blades under the wings is fairly common. It’s to straighten airflow being directed towards the floor.

          1. My thinking is that he meant wing fences, but used the term diffusers because almost everyone has an idea what that looks like.

        2. I’m calling troll alert on Uni-tard over here…

  11. When the side pods were off you could see the exhausts ended short. There appears to be no room for them to exit at the rear? I think there are some things missing from the car.

    1. Maybe they have decided to have exhausts exiting the bottom of the sidepods rather than in front or behind? Not sure how practical it would be…

    2. But then again it does look possible that they are coming out in front of the back wing, otherwise what is that hole for?

      1. You can see the exhausts in this picture – the slot in front of the rear wing is for something else.

        1. boy my eyesight must be bad

        2. Oh yeah, there they are, righteo looks fairly basic. Imagine the starter hole solutions being used and the air will be fed below the diffuser as well as above.

          Looks like Redbull have the most advanced method of feeding the diffusers normally. Wonder if that’ll be copied. Cars may change between launch and testing we all know, an Renaults tme most radical.

          1. No you can’t see where the exhaust exit, they have not given away that secret. The engine and exhaust were plastic

  12. If F1 were a poker game: Redbull what is your bet? “High nose!” Ferrari? “We see your nose and raise it!” Mercedes? “We see their nose and raise it!” McLaren? “Ahahahaha, call ;)

    1. Also the nose appears to have a ramp leading from the front wing. Either that or it is something else in the picture making it look like that.

      1. yeah that tongue was something Williams brought in a few years back, from memory a few teams tried it, Not sure if Williams still use it but I’m pretty sure McLaren have had it for a while.

        1. Yep, williams had it in 2009, McLaren had it last year. I think it is angled a bit more down this year, but maybe that is only because the nose is lower too.

  13. If F1 were a poker game: Redbull what is your bet? “High nose!” Ferrari? “We see your nose and raise it!” Mercedes? “We see their nose and raise it!” McLaren? “Ahahaha, call ;)”

    Have to love McLaren for being gutsy enough to go so against the grain!

    1. Ooops, sorry for the double post everybody!

      1. the nose doesnt look any lower than last years car imo. by far the most radical looking car this season..

        lets hope the virgin and HRT dont overshadow ;)

        1. The tip of the nose may not be lower, but the whole nose forward from the cockpit is straighter and slopes down lower at the front wheel than last year.

        2. possibly HRT’s livery, but Virgin could be a different story.

          If you look at what Wirth accomplished in the Le Mans Series with his CFD approach, it is entirely possible that someday Virgin will be a racewinner.

          And maybe someday is near!

          1. You can’t compare Le Mans and F1. It is much easier to reduce drag on cars with enclosed wheels than it is on open wheelers.
            Even without using a wind tunnel or CFD, any of the new teams can make progress this year by visually copying the design elements of last years successful cars.
            If CFD is going to save the world as he claims, then Virgin should be very fast this year and we can forgive any reliability issues or mis-calibrated fuel tanks.

            Wirth is someone who just enjoys his data and forgets the cause.

  14. Oops, there is a screw missing on the exhaust shot just below were the top suspension arm exits the gearbox casing.

  15. Are the exhaust pipes centralized in that airplane looking thing in the middle in the back, right before the moving back wing ?

    1. That exit could be for the air cooling the kers and gearbox etc.

  16. Out of interest why does a British team lauch their car in Berlin? Mercedes influence?

    1. It was a request by vodafone to have it launched there.

      1. For those who watched the live feed, it was all to obvious this was a VF event. Lewis put the name in virtually every sentence and Kai Ebel (I think it was him doing the presenters job, correct me if I am wrong) used quite a bit of it as well.

        1. No, Kai is the guy who always dresses funny ! :)

        2. @ BasCB

          You are completely presumptive to think that it was a vodafone event. And I am sure Lewis didn’t put in Vodafone’s name in every sentence he spoke. In fact He & Jenson were very happy to be at Berlin.

          1. Maybe you are slightly presumptive to know how Jenson and Lewis felt, considering you are not: a) Lewis or Jenson b) psychic

          2. This has to be humor, or by now it is really sad. You had too really stretch to find anything to complain and seem at least half factually wrong.

            The Vodafone guy said it himself! Button and Hamilton looked like they were determined to enjoy it, I can’t know how they actually felt.

          3. Actually it was, McLaren stated that it was a launch with their sponsor Vodafone and all the people taking in parts of the car were Vodafone competition winners and customers.

            On a side note, this is getting immensely tiring and ruining an otherwise great comments thread. Any chance of a ban for Unipartretarded?

        3. @BasCB

          Is Unipart your ex wife or something? Or a spurned girlfriend? :-)

          Or is it actually you, and you are winding us up? :-)

          I agree, it was definitely at VFs request.

          1. i’m thinking Keith is in on this joke, otherwise he would’ve been banned by now… have to admit, i am no scouring the comments pages to find BasCB posts!

    2. it was to coincide with a promo event vodafone are doing over in Germany

  17. That looks horrible

  18. Wow, I haven’t really liked the look of Mclarens in recent years but this is sleek as hell. The sidepod shapes don’t look like they’re that way for no reason, put it that way.

    1. In fact I wonder if the recess in the shape of the sidepods allows air over the top of the sidepods and into the rear of the car.

      1. I suppose that’s the intention of them, leaving the openings to scoop up the dirty air from the front wheels.

        1. That almost has to be it. I find it refreshing to see a car that has actual sidepods this year, other than SRT. Everyone else seems to be copying RedBull’s idea of packaging the rear end so tight that the sidepods almost disappear!

        2. @ BasCB

          Unless you have done Computational Fluid Dynamic simulations yourself, you can’t be so sure that the openings are to scoop up the dirty air from the front wheels.

          The study of airflow is a very abstract & complex field for you to be speculating.

          1. Wow, you really are obsessed with stalking the same poster.

          2. Unipart- if you’re doing this for some private joke which i hope you are then fair enough its quite amusing. If you’re not then someone might suggest that you are a truly sad and probably very lonely individual. Im still deciding whether or not i like you…

          3. dyslexicbunny
            4th February 2011, 16:19

            He can suppose whatever the hell he wants. There’s a definition for suppose: “Assume that something is the case on the basis of evidence or probability but without proof or certain knowledge.” Fancy that.

            So unless you’ve got data to prove him wrong, you’d be better off keeping your mouth shut about idle speculation. This Bas stalking has gotten irritating. What, did Bas pee in your cornflakes for the past month?

          4. Well i’ll you what, have a go at me, not BasCB if you wanna go on about the openings. I raised the point in the first place, so if the point was wrong, correct me.

            Anyhow, I’m not sure what it is, but looking at the car something tells me they’ve nailed it. Somehow.

  19. wondered how long it was goin before someone couldn’t brought up the ‘british bias’ digs.

  20. im sure that car has something illegal that they will call clever design.

    1. Why, what did they have that was illegal last year?

    2. Bigbadderboom
      4th February 2011, 12:43

      Sounds like a contradicting statement to me! How is it clever if it is illegal? You can push the boundaries of the regs by innovation, perhaps that’s what you poorly veiled, bias statement was meaning to say!!

    3. Well because trinacria, as an Italian, or at least someone who references Sicily in their name, knows that all non-Italian teams and drivers cheat, while Ferrari are The True Way.

      Remember Luca’s comments about how Brawn and Red Bull had previously ‘doped’ their titles by coming up with things Ferrari didn’t? Sorry, I mean coming up with ‘illegal’ things. *rolls eyes*

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