► New MP4-30 F1 racer revealed
► Honda's back in F1 with engine deal
► See 2015 F1 drivers' promo video
In what’s surely the most eagerly awaited new car reveal ahead of the 2015 F1 season, McLaren has today pulled the covers from the MP4-30. It’s not only their first car to be powered by a Honda engine since 1992 but also one which sees Fernando Alonso return to the Woking fold after a partnership that ended less than amicably after just one season together in 2007.
McLaren’s history with Honda is a rather happier one, racking up four drivers’ championships from 1988 to 1991, including a near clean sweep of race wins in the 1988 season. Following a 23-year absence from Grand Prix racing, hitting the ground running in the current ever-more-complex hybrid era will be no easy task for Honda’s engineers.
Engine and driver line-up aside, what’s different about this season’s McLaren?
McLaren poached aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou from Red Bull in September 2014, and he’s said to have been heavily involved in the 2015 car’s design. That long, low door-wedge nose isn’t pretty but it’s far less challenging to look at than last year’s anteater affair. It’s also notable for the way its bodywork is pulled particularly tightly around the powertrain and gearbox at the rear.
Honda’s new hybrid 1.6-litre turbo RA615H power ‘unit’ (given all the adjoining electric motor and energy harvesting bits that also make up a modern F1 car’s drivetrain we’re not supposed to use the term ‘engine’ any more) has a tough job on its hands to gain ground on the might of the Mercedes powerplants which dominated last season.
McLaren ended the 2014 constructors’ championship in fifth place and have been speaking in cautious, rather than bullish, terms at the car’s unveiling, with chairman Ron Dennis describing the renewed McLaren-Honda partnership as ‘the start of a lengthy journey’ and Jenson Button talking of the ‘huge challenge’ that lies ahead.
When does the MP4-30 get its first outing?
This Sunday, on 1st February. Alonso gets first dibs at Jerez, Button will take over on day two. It’s an intriguing driver pairing. McLaren made Button wait to confirm his seat, but as the most experienced driver on the Grand Prix grid the 2009 world champion will be able to draw on 14 seasons of know-how to help develop the new powertrain.
Incidentally, McLaren’s also created a cheese-tastic promo video to accompany the new driver pairing, in which Jenson and Fernando reveal their hitherto concealed thespian sides. The entertaining result is below: