Bolting from the fold Marussia (formerly
Virgin) has decided not to employ KERS
on its F1 cars this year. The team says
the complications aren’t worth the few
tenths of seconds per lap.
McLaren is hopeful the new MP4-27 is a winning ticket, but worries rivals may challenge its right to compete.
More photos and tech
details of new F1 cars:
DEVELOPMENT AT FULL TILT
F1’s new cars arrive amid the first technical debate of 2012, regarding the
approval and then unapproval of so-called reactive ride systems
Tension between the need to demonstrate Formula 1’s
position at the technological leading edge of motorsport
and the emphasis on entertainment value and cost
containment was in full view as the teams began to reveal their
2012 cars. Lotus got the ball rolling by revealing its development
of a “reactive ride” suspension system activated by brake torque.
This was initially given a green light from the FIA, only to be
subsequently banned as contravening the regulations.
At the time of its initial approval to the then Lotus Renault
team, the FIA understood that these devices were purely
suspension-related and aimed at maintaining ride height, and
so were e;ectively nothing more than a sophisticated version
of rising-rate springs. However, with rival teams, including
Ferrari, having expressed an interest in the design and queried
its legality after it was spotted at last year’s young driver test in
Abu Dhabi, the FIA took a closer look.
As more details emerged about the Renault and Ferrari
systems, both in terms of how they worked and what their
benefit was, it became clear that the main advantage of the
suspension systems was in helping aerodynamic performance.
The FIA believed that because the systems relied on changes
being made to the length of the suspension member as well as
unusual movement of the brake calipers – and these alterations
helped the aerodynamics of the car – that they were in breach
of of F1’s technical regulations, which
ban movable aerodynamic devices.
Meanwhile, McLaren – the first of the
big teams to reveal its 2012 car –
acknowledged at the launch of the new
MP4-27 that it expected challenges to its
legality from rival teams, having opted
for a radical design approach.
“This year we have not been cautious
but we have found some good
performance,” said team principal Martin
Whitmarsh. “We have set ourselves some
tough targets that, if we reach, we think
we can fight for the championship. We
haven’t reached those targets yet, but
with some work we will do.”
This year we have
not been cautious but
we have found some
While the new car resembles the 2011
machine, the team said the MP4-27
chassis has been substantially revised,
with all major systems updated or
redesigned for the new season. The most
evident di;erences are tightly waisted
rear bodywork and a revised cooling
system. The U-shaped sidepods used last
year have also been redesigned to adapt
to the FIA’s new exhaust regulations.
Specifically, McLaren aims to
maximize the car’s single-lap speed, in
the hope that this will allow it to take
more pole positions and control races from
the front. McLaren Applied Technologies
managing director Geo; McGrath added
that analysis indicated that the raw pace
of last year’s MP4-26 was superior toward
the end of the season, despite Sebastian
Vettel’s run of poles for Red Bull.
“He [Vettel] must be a brilliant driver,
because by the end of last season we
definitely had the best car and he was
still whupping us,” McGrath said.