INTRODUCING THE MP4-25
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team today revealed its brand new MP4-25 chassis - the car in which reigning world champion Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will contest the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Únveiled at Vodafone ÚK's stunning headquarters in Newbury, the 2010 car looks noticeably different from last year's race-winning MP4-24. MP4-25 features a radical aerodynamic overhaul and a significantly larger fuel tank to take full advantage of this year's new regulations, and its design team is confident it has explored every possible avenue to maximise the car's performance.
Horsepower once again comes from our friends in Stuttgart. Mercedes-Benz's FO 108X V8 subtly improves upon an engine which has become the benchmark in Formula 1, winning the last two drivers' world championships.
The team kicks off its 2010 campaign with a stunning driver pairing: 2009 world champion Jenson Button and 2008 title winner Lewis Hamilton. It is the first time since 1989 - when it ran Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna - that the team has fielded a joint-world champion driver line-up, and marks the first time in Formula 1 history that the sport's two most recent world champions have been partnered together.
However, the driver line-up represents only a fraction of the team's remarkable strength in depth. Members of the design team who contributed to the development of MP4-25 can also trace their involvement back through an incredible seven drivers' world championships, five of the team's eight constructors' world championships and 112 of the team's 164 grand prix victories.
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team begins pre-season testing with MP4-25 at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo on Monday.Source - McLaren
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Principal shares his thoughts on the launch of the new MP4-25How confident are you that the team can sustain the momentum it gathered at the end of 2009 into the new season?
'By the end of last season, we had one of the fastest cars in the field - and that's a testament to the ceaseless belief, motivation and skill of the people within our team. And I hope we've maintained that momentum over the winter.
'Indeed, we've pushed the limits with the design of the new car, and I'm tremendously proud of everyone's achievements. We feel that the relatively stable regulatory changes will play to our strengths, and it's our aim to field a fully competitive car from the start of the season.'What prompted the decision to sign Jenson to partner Lewis?
'At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we've demonstrated that strength in depth is the best approach to take in Formula 1. The group of engineers, designers and strategists we've assembled demonstrates how much can be achieved by a very focused team operating at the very limit of their abilities.
'In Jenson, we saw a champion driver hungry for more; somebody who wants to achieve greater successes, and bring with him a blend of experience, speed and strength of character that will further strengthen this organisation.
'We've already seen those qualities in Lewis, too. And he's proved beyond question that he's not only a great Formula 1 driver, but also a great team player and a motivator.
'I'm convinced that we have one of the very strongest driver line-ups in Formula 1, and that both Jenson and Lewis are committed to working together to enhance the team's prospects in what promises to be a fiercely competitive season.'What is it about McLaren that has made it such an enduring force within Formula 1?
'There's a passion and commitment within this organisation that is hard to define. We saw it last year, but, in fact, we see it every year: it's an ability to pull together in order to overcome great obstacles.
'And the same goes for the team's many commercial partnerships. We have fantastic, long-standing relationships with our partners, and we're extremely proud of the strength and depth of those partnerships. They speak volumes about the levels of trust and the reputation that this team has established over many, many years.
'We're big believers in people - that belief got us where we are today, and it's our shared commitment that will take us forward in 2010.'Source - McLaren
A British Formula One team centered in Woking, Surrey, England, McLaren Racing Limited is also trading as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Though they may be better known as a Formula One constructor, they are also quite famous with winning in the Indianapolis 500 and Canadian-American Challenge Cup. The second oldest active team, they are surpassed in age only by Ferrari, and are one of the most successful teams in Formula One. The McLaren Company has won a total of 182 races, 8 constructors' championships and 12 drivers' championships.
The MP4-25 was a Formula One motor racing car introduced during the 2010 season. Debuting at title sponsor Vodafone's headquarters in Newburg, Berkshire, UK on January 29th, 2010, the MP4-25 was driven by 2009 World Champion Jenson Button and 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. The 2010 car looked significantly different from 2009's race winning MP4-24. McLaren hoped that the new machine would maintain the strong energy from 2009 and put them back in title contention. Showcasing a stunning aerodynamic overhaul and a noticeably larger fuel tank to take full advantage of the new regulations, the MP4-25's design team was confident that they had taken every step to achieve maximum performance. The MP4-25 would bear the significant number one thanks to world champion Jenson Button joining McLaren from the former Brawn team to partner fellow Briton, Lewis Hamilton. The same power plant that brought McLaren and Hamilton the world title in 2008, horsepower came once again came from a slightly improved Mercedes-Benz FO 108X V8 engine. Weighing just below 210 pounds, the MP4-25 was just a bit heavier than its predecessor and would make its first on track appearance in Valencia, Spain on February 1st for pre season testing with many of the other F1 competitors.
This would be the first time since 1989 when the team has fielded a joint-world champion driver lineup and marks the first time that the sport's two most recent world champions were paired together in Formula 1 history. The design team featured members who not only had contributed to the development of MP4-25, but could trace their involvement back through seven drivers' world championships, five of the eight constructor's world championships and 112 of the team's 164 Grand Prix triumphs.
There was some argument by the Red Bull Racing team about the legality of the MP4-25's rear wing. Complaints were made to the FIA and the car was inspected on the Thursday before the Bahrain Grand Prix and was cleared to take part in the race. The design used a small 'snorkel' air scoop that channels air through a duct in the cockpit towards the back of the car, it was mounted in front of the driver. Combined with small slots on the rear wing, changes in the pressure in the duct caused the wing to enter a stalled state at height speed, which reduced aerodynamic drag. It allowed the car as much as an extra 6 mph on straights. A moveable aerodynamic device would be banned by the FIA under the technical regulations, but in this particular instance the effect is controlled by the driver covering up a small hole in the cockpit with his left leg. Dubbed the 'F-Duct' system because of the shape of the air intake, or the fact that its beside the F of the Vodafone logo, it was also known internally as the RW80. It was also sometimes called switchable rear wing or SRW.
Proving to be quite an improvement over the McLaren MP4-24, the MP4-25 won the Australian Grand Prix with Jenson Button, in its second ever race. Both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button reached the third stage of qualifying at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton did the best in Q3, placing the car fourth on the grid with Button managing eighth. Unfortunately the MP4-25 proved lacking in downforce, which made it a struggle to keep up the pace with the Ferraris and Sebastian Vettel who kept up an impressive lead. Hamilton finished third due to a problem with Vettel's car during an uneventful race. Finishing seventh, Button also picked up a place during the race.
After the other drivers had pitted, Button was the first to come in for slick tires in Australia on a damp but drying track. It escalated him to second place. He got the lead when Vettel had to stop due to brake problems and kept this position until the end of the race without changing tires again. After a contentious weekend both on and off the track Hamilton finished sixth.
Updates to the car seemed to help improve the car's overall pace by three-tenths of a second in Malaysia. Hamilton recorded the quickest lap time in both free practice sessions on Friday. In all three practice sessions Button also finished in the top ten. Instead of using common sense during increment weather, the team relied on the weather radar and the first qualifying session was wet. The team failed to send their cars out during the best track conditions and Hamilton failed to make it out of the first part of qualifying, and set the 20th best time. Aquaplaning into the gravel trap, Button just barely made it out of that sessions and started seventeenth on the grid taking no further part in the qualifying session. Hamilton finished sixth and Button finished eighth.
Both drivers scored a leading 1-2 finish in China. A front wheel rim cracked and deflated a front tire in Spain when Hamilton who had been running in the front for most of the race crashed out on the penultimate lap. After qualifying fifth, Button underwent delays during his first pitstop and was jumped by Schumacher. He wasn't able to recover and finished in fifth place. Hamilton and Button qualified for fifth and eighth in Monaco where the car lacked mechanical grip. On lap 3 Button had to retire with an overheating engine after a cooling duct with accidently left in the radiator. Hamilton finished fifth after never managing to threaten the pace of the leaders.
Hamilton qualified second and Button qualified fourth in Turkey amongst the two Red Bulls of polesitter Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton challenged Webber for first place during the first stint and the car's straightline speed was evident when he wasn't able to pass. A rear wheel jammed and caused him to be delayed during his pitstop. He dropped behind Vettel and kept up the pace with Button trailing behind him, and after passing Schumacher on the first lap he continued to match the pace of the leaders. Unfortunately on lap 41 the two Red Bulls collided with Vettel retiring. Webber to needed to pit for a new front wing. Hamilton was never challenged in spite of a slight battle for the lead with Button as the race came near the end, and led Button home for the second one-two finish of the season for McLaren.
Hamilton received the first non-Red Bull pose of the season in Canada. Giving the team the constructors championship lead, Hamilton went on to claim the drivers' championship lead as led home Button once again for a 1-2.
With Button in seventh, Hamilton qualified third behind the Red Bulls in Valencia. Hamilton passed the safety car illegally and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty after Webber ran into the back and over Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus. Hamilton still finished second behind Vettel in spite of this with Button completing the podium. With the hope of introducing new aerodynamic modifications for the MP4-25, McLaren hoped to challenge Red Bull at Silverstone. Neither driver though could find a good balance and setup for the new updates and ended up reverting to the original package. Button failed to make the top tend and ended up 14th while Hamilton qualified fourth. Button finished fourth while losing out on the final podium spot to Nico Rosberg and Hamilton took another second place in the race. Until additional major updates were introduced Hockenheim proved difficult for McLaren while the team prepared a damage limitation tactics. Hamilton kept his championship lead with fourth. Button was just behind and kept McLaren top of the constructors' championship.
Unfortunately in Hungary Button missed the top ten again, and Hamilton nearly two seconds off pole position. A gearbox issue retired Hamilton during the race and Button finished a lap down in eighth place. Both championship leaders were lost during the weekend. Hamilton fell four points behind Webber and the team fell eight points behind Red Bull. The Belgian Grand Prix looked a lot more promising as Hamilton was second on the grid and Button placed fifth. They moved into first and second as the rain started to come down. Vettel was extremely close to Button in the second and on lap 16 the German attempted to overtake on the outside of the Bus Stop chicane and lost control. He hit Button's McLaren and eliminated the Briton from the race. Until the very end Hamilton stayed in the lead even when the rain returned in the closing laps.
In a reversal of positions from Spa, at the Italian Grand Prix Button qualified second while Hamilton qualified in 5th. At turn one Button took the lead from Alonso. Hamilton tried to pull the same trick on Massa, Alonso's teammate at the second chicane, however he hit the Brazilian and damaged his front suspension while eliminating him from the race. Until the pit stops Button stayed ahead, but was passed by Alonso at the end, by a mere 3 seconds.
On the grid in Singapore Hamilton and Button were third and fourth with only 5 tenths separating the top 5. Both McLaren drivers stayed in position during a safety car, deployed to clear the debris of Vitantonio Liuzi's Force India, directly to the pit stops. Webber had jumped them in the stops, but they stayed behind them, barely in time for a second safety car as Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi crashed. The field was closed and on the restart Hamilton was able to close right up as Webber was held up by Lucas di Grassi in the Virgin. Hamilton attempted to move into turn 7 but unfortunately made contact with the Australian as he moved across in front and Lewis's rear suspension was critically damaged. He had retired because of unnecessary contact with another car for the second time in two races. Button pushed into fourth as Webber continued on unhindered and it continued this way until the end of the race.
After pouring rain at Suzuka on Saturday, qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix was held on the morning of the race. Qualifying third, Hamilton eventually started the race in 8th following a 5 place grid penalty for changing his gearbox. Button, originally sixth, started fifth now. With a fantastic start Hamilton moved up to 6th just behind his team meat before the safety car was deployed because of the first corner incident involving Vitantonio Liuzzi, Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hülkenberg. Robert Kubic was retired two laps later, which promoted them to 4th and 5th place. During the pit stops Button let, but emerged in fifth behind Hamilton. Button quickly caught up to Hamilton and passed him. They finished this way trailing in 4th and 5th in the championship race.
In Korea, Hamilton was fourth on the grid and Button was down in 7th. Horribly rainy conditions were at the start of the race, and the race was red flagged following three laps under the safety car. Later, the race resumed, still under the safety car, and it stayed out until lap 18. Hamilton was passed early on by Nico Rosberg, and shortly afterwards Webber spun out of the race, grabbing Rosberg as he spun across the track. Hamilton was now in 3rd while Button was in 5th position. Unfortunately Button did poorly in the pit stops and he soon found himself in 15th. Hamilton came in second place when Vettel who had been leading the race suffered engine failure, giving Alonso the lead. Button climbed up to 12th place in the end when Petrov, Vettel and Sutil retired.
Button was eliminated in Q2 in Brazil by top 10 regular Felipe Massa. Hamilton did well taking fourth on the grid. Dropping to 5th at the start he was passed by a quick starting Fernando Alonso. Button had climbed up to 9th, but was quickly passed by Schumacher. Button did well from his beginning pit stop and climbed to 7th place, ahead of Schumacher. Hamilton had pushing his way past pole sitter Hülkenberg on lap 14, and had been stuck behind Kamui Kobayashi after his stop, but thankfully along with Button, they found a way through. Rosberg's late pit stop pushed them to 4th and 5th place. The championship was now out of reach for Button going to the final round in Abu Dhabi, but it was an outside shot for Hamilton who was 24 points off Alonso's lead.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ended the season and Hamilton took 2nd in a very important race for him. Button ended in 4th. Jumping Alonso at the beginning, which was helpful for Hamilton who needed to win with Alonso out of the points and Vettel and Webber both well down. During the pit stops Button lead, but they remained in the sames stops, 2nd and 3rd behind Vettel. Vettel went on to achieve the title and the race. Hamilton was eventually fourth, while Button was fifth. McLaren held on to second in the Constructors, 58 ahead of Ferrari in 3rd and 44 behind Red Bull.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson