McLaren MP4-26 launch – first pictures

2011 F1 cars

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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392 comments on McLaren MP4-26 launch – first pictures

  1. barkun (@barkun) said on 4th February 2011, 11:33

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

  2. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th February 2011, 11:33

    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.

    • John H said on 4th February 2011, 12:22

      Looks pretty proportionate & finished in my subjective opinion PM.

    • Maciek said on 4th February 2011, 12:23

      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.

    • 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.

    • Don Mateo said on 4th February 2011, 12:49

      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.

    • David BR said on 4th February 2011, 14:01

      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.

    • Salty said on 4th February 2011, 22:06

      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.

  3. BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th February 2011, 11:33

    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.

    • Unipart said on 4th February 2011, 13:20

      @ 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.

      • MagillaGorilla said on 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  4. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 4th February 2011, 11:34

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

  5. Neil Davies (@neil-davies) said on 4th February 2011, 11:34

    3D model is up at

    Looks awesome.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th February 2011, 11:49

      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.

      • you can drive it about too which is fun :)

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 4th February 2011, 12:31

        You can choose manual orbit to pause it.

      • Unipart said on 4th February 2011, 13:24

        @ 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.

        • 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.

        • 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

        • Hare (@hare) said on 4th February 2011, 18:16

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

        • Hamish said on 4th February 2011, 22:15

          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.

  6. Paolone (@paolone) said on 4th February 2011, 11:34

    Is it a double air-box?

    • roadie said on 4th February 2011, 12:08

      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.

  7. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 4th February 2011, 11:36

    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.

    • 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.

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 4th February 2011, 12:53

        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?

        • 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.

      • 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…

    • kowalsky (@) said on 4th February 2011, 12:43

      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.

      • 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.

    • Paulo said on 4th February 2011, 13:45

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

  8. Hare (@hare) said on 4th February 2011, 11:51

    Scarbs is gonna have a field day! :)

  9. 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…

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

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 4th February 2011, 12:46

      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.

  11. Calski said on 4th February 2011, 12:07

    NUTS! I love it! Yes reguler exhaust :/

  12. Xenon2 (@xenon2) said on 4th February 2011, 12:12

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

  13. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 4th February 2011, 12:13

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

  14. 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..?

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

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

    • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 4th February 2011, 12:30

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

      • 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 :)

        • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 4th February 2011, 13:05

          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.

      • Oliver said on 4th February 2011, 14:23

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

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 4th February 2011, 12:33

      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.

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 4th February 2011, 12:53

      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!

    • the edge said on 4th February 2011, 14:15

      nice 1 nemo

  15. Polishboy808 (@polishboy808) said on 4th February 2011, 12:14

    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.

    • 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…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th February 2011, 12:30

      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)

      • 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.


        • Neil Davies (@neil-davies) said on 4th February 2011, 12:43

          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.

          • Andy C said on 4th February 2011, 14:21

            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.

        • Neil Davies (@neil-davies) said on 4th February 2011, 12:47

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

      • Unipart said on 4th February 2011, 13:30

        @ 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.

        • 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.

          • Oliver said on 4th February 2011, 16:13

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

        • Maciek said on 4th February 2011, 18:03

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

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