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. I’m very suspicion of the whole launch concept and how they appeared with the skeleton of the car and build it. I think there is a whole lot more science going into this design. The concentric air box seems to channel air and direct it to the lower rear wing. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this can do. As for the look of the car can we remind ourselves this is racing car designed for speed? not a road car designed for the looks.

    1. And it’s not lacking in the looks department. Very sleek.

  2. If I interpret this close-up right it looks rather interesting. Is that the exhaust? Very unusual position if so. Would they be trying to use it to affect the airflow around the rear wing?

    1. i dont think that is the exhaust exit. looks more to do with the split airbox to me..!?

      1. @nemo and leftie: thanks guys. Probably right.
        It had me me wondering whether it was in some way an attempt to use some internal mechanism (engine or something else) to direct airflow in an f-duct-ish way, but the location is all wrong. Undoubtedly it will have been scrupulously carefully placed for some other arcane reason. The whole rear looks very small and with the sidepods the way they are I imagine the air is going to flow round this area in a quite different way to other cars. Of course, I haven’t a clue what I’m on about, I just look forward to seeing it on the track!

    2. I think its rather a cooling system outlet than the exhaust pipe.

  3. That looks different…not sure about beautiful, though. Some interesting solutions, for sure, but i’m sure presented car is far off its true from. We’ll have to wait till Barcelona\Bahrain test for that.

  4. Man, I love this sport!

    It’s so cool to watch these new cars and the different solutions chosen by the teams.

    Also, despite all the copying going on, you can still see the DNA of the different teams. I mean imagine this car in Ferrari livery and vice versa. Or add a Red Bull or Mercedes in the mix.

    I would’ve been surprised had McLaren built a clean, smooth car. You just know that they will live up to their name and bring some extra features, shapes or whatever. Now let’s hope it all works – for all the teams, so we can have another close season!

    1. Well said Verstappen!!

  5. if anyone has missed it
    here you go guys..

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

    1. Yeah, slightly longer. Perhaps to try and gain as much from the Adjustable Rear Wing (are we calling that ARW yet?) and from KERS?

      Id love to see a similar shot of the RB7, F150 and MP4/26 together. Then we can start picking at them ;) (not saying you should do it nemo, just thinking aloud)

      1. haha if i can find decent/similar shots it will be done..!

      2. A longer wheelbase has been confirmed. That will help with counteracting the oversteer induced by the new Pirreli tyres.

        1. The wheelbase is the same. I resized this version so the wheels are the same size, and the wheelbase is now exactly the same. The car as a whole is a touch longer.

  6. …ahh sounds like I have the wrong end of the stick. Intriguing bit, anyway. Overall a shape that looks like it embodies myriad clever ideas. Slinky!

  7. Because I have been busy at work I haven’t really been following testing or had a chance to have a good look at the other 2011 cars. First impressions are that I like the MP4-26

    The front wing looks rather complex. I thought they may have put a more basic one on for the launch.

    Also they McLaren still don’t have a sponsor on the back of the rear wing, which I find a bit surprising as it is one of the main areas for sponsors.

    1. Yeah I couldn’t understand last year why they didn’t have any sponsor logo there. That area features so heavily in the incar camera view of a car close behind, you would think Mclaren would want to make use of that especialy if cars will now be able to get closer behind others.

  8. The airbox-in-an-airbox remins me of the xenomorph from Alien and the way it had a mouth in its mouth.

  9. I’m Ferrari fan, but… this is beautiful!! Go McLaren! I think this is a winner.

  10. That is last years front and rear wings.

    Why use your new front wings and give the competition stuff to think about. Keep them guessing.

    This is a base aero package and is likely to be different at the first race. Even ferrari, williams, renault and mercedes used last years front wings at valencia.

  11. that is one crazy looking car. Hope all these radical designs pay off.

  12. Shape of the sidepods strikes me as being inspired by the streamliners they used to use on the high-speed circuits back in the pre-war days and the 50’s.

    At the time the bodywork would cover the wheels which gave them bulges on either side of the car. The effect these sidepods have with the channels formed by the side bulges and raised centre section reminds me a bit of that shape.

    1. Exactly what I have been thinking. Reminds me of some old Auto union race cars of way back. The only difference being that the wheels would have been directly mounted on what we now call the sidepod.

  13. It looks very well developed and innovative in all the areas except from the nose that is in countertrend from the others teams.
    Maybe just the renault’s front exhaust exit seems to be the much radical innovation at the moment.
    Anyway it looks better than Ferrari which has lost any sign of innovation

    1. To be fair, we have no idea where the Mclaren exhaust is going to end/come out. Heres a pic of it from earlier

      Its just ‘there’ but with no showing where it blows to.

      1. it looks like it will be in a similar position as the RB7, but I don’t think it will be at the front as renault (which still has to prove the efficiency of the solution).

      2. look at pic 12 & 19 on official f1 site

          1. That plastic engine is so small, it must be a 2stroke concept.

  14. I love that its so different. Either gonna be awesome or an epic fail.

    Can’t wait for scarbs to cast his eye over it and tell me what its all for:

  15. I love this car. I like that they don’t use the gimmicky front nose like everybody else. I love the sidepod idea. Idk if the nose is narrower than last years, but if not the way it’s painted makes it look that way and it’s great.

  16. WhooHoo, ahm… STRANGE :)

  17. This car will win the championship!! period.

  18. heres a quick pic of the Mclaren comapred to the Ferrari. Again ive tried to scale it as best i can (according to rim size)

    the ferrari nose is a heck of a lot longer..

    1. also the Ferrari is alot slimmer at the back

      1. Gotta be careful saying it’s slimmer. Don’t forget the McLaren is missing a considerable chunk of volume in that sidepod.

        And remember the Toyota’s nose from last season? It was virtually non existent!

        1. thats true.. looking and the mclarenf rom a different angle it seems quite tall at the back but also quite narrow i width

          1. Revolution vs evolution…

    2. Cool. Interestingly the tip of the Mclaren nose isn’t much lower than the Ferrari one, but it slopes all the way along whereas the Ferrari is pretty much horizontal all the way. I guess the “horizon” for the Mclaren driver will be lower as a result – a good thing for visibility I presume.

      1. also noticed the mclaren hasnt got the camera/T bar up top.. probably just a launch thing right..?

      2. Yes I would think so too, should be easier to see apexes. The ferrari nose does look laughably high next to the Mclaren, especialy at the front wheel.

    3. I don’t know if it is the colour scheme of the maclarens – but they (for the last two years) seem to have much more bulk (bulge) down the inside of the sidepod (from where the driver sits, along the inside of the sidepod to the rear) when copared to the other cars, especially the ferrari. Again I dont know if this is due to light reflecting differently and an optical illusion but it always looks bulkier here

    4. Misleading image. The camera that took the Ferrari was positioned slightly to the right while that of the Mclaren was slightly to the left, you can tell that by the off set of the front wheels. This makes the Mclaren nose cone look much shorter than it really is.

  19. heres an updated picture of the MP4-26 compared to last seasons lauch car..

    seems i was mistaken before.. this years car appears to be shorter in wheelbase..!?

    1. Wow, are you sure you got the sizes right here. I get the impression the tyres look smaller on this years car, but it might just be the different shape confusing me there.

      Would that also mean a slightly different comparison with the Ferrari?

      1. no they are the same. i think the shiny tyres make them look bigger too.

        I water-marked the images and plaed them ontop of eachother to get the scales as close as possible :)

      2. @ BasCB

        You clearly must know that the camera capturing those two photographs were not in the same focal length range.

        Would that also mean a slightly different comparison with the Ferrari?

        It would be completely different.

    2. I think BasCB is right.
      From the look of it, the scaling in your first comparison between old and new were correct.

      1. yeah i see what you mean. but looking at the water-marked scales i did the rear wheels are the same atleast haha

    3. I think I would agree with BasCB. Now the 26 looks 2 or 3% too small.

    4. The MP4-26 is at slightly more of an angle. That makes it look shorter

      1. Thats true, slightly from behind.

    5. nemo, using a bit of paper and the wheels as reference your scaling seems a tad out

      but that said…good work

    6. nemo … Thanks for taking the time to do the photo comparisons. It would appear that the different camera positions and the resulting perspectives may be at issue. In the 2010 launch the camera position appears to be in line with the cockpit, while in the 2011 launch the camera is a little aft of the cockpit. This allows you to see more of the left front wheel and in turn makes the nose appear shorter than it actually is. In the Ferrari shot, the camera appears to be slightly forward of the cockpit – note that you can see significantly more of the left rear wheel – which makes the nose look longer.

  20. There are a lot of interesting parts on that car! I very much doubt what looks like the exhaust is where the actual exhaust will be.

    You’d assume the extra inlet behind the airbox is for cooling but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it isn’t!

    They haven’t put their new wings on yet and the diffuser is just a basic diffuser to complete the car for the launch.

    Can’t wait to see what it looks like come Bahrain!

    1. I assume you mean the outlet behind the airbox? That is not the exhaust outlet it seems to be for exiting air from the cooling system. The exhausts currently exit directly on to the diffuser but they are plastic mock-ups so who knows where they will end up on the real thing.

      I also assume the extra air box is for cooling the KERS instead of having larger side pod inlets. The double airbox most likely results in less drag.

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