McLaren unveiled their 2008 challenger today at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart. The MP4-23 was revealed to the waiting press and photos were distributed of the new model. The cars will be numbered 22 and 23 following the teams exclusion from the 2007 championship after it was found they had beached the rules. But the 14th car to be powered by Mercedes is good to go following the end of the saga last year and the team are buoyant about their chances of winning the title in 2008.
The livery continues with the chrome effect adorning the tight and sculptured lines of the McLaren, and like with the Ferrari, the cockpit is narrower but allows more room around the steering wheel. Higher cockpit sides are introduced to comply with new safety rules and the ’08 machine is void of electronic aids that are now prohibited in the sport.
The launch was attended by 700 employees from the nearby Mercedes factory, as well as 400 media representatives who were busy asking questions. The MP4-23 will debut on track on Wednesday when it takes part in a private test at Jerez in Southern Spain, where Lewis Hamilton and new-to-McLaren Heikki Kovalainen will get a taste of their new racer.
It is Lewis’ birthday today, we’ve gone to a lot of trouble… He is 23, it is the MP4-23 and he will carry [number] 23 on the car, but that is more by accident than judgement I must say. This is a year of forward thinking for us, we are looking forward.
We are not spending any time dwelling on the past. We are intent with everyone in the company in producing a competitive racing car, a car that is constantly evolving and will look radically different by the time we get to the first Grand Prix. Ron Dennis.
Everyone in Woking in our technology centre and Mercedes has had to work incredibly hard to produce this car, which we know is quicker than the car we raced in Brazil. We have to have two cars testing this week. It is tremendous effort to finish the second car.
Between now and the start of the season we will continue to develop the package, many components will evolve and change, and a lot more will be added to the car before the start of the season.
We know none of our competitors have stood still and we hope to be in a position to win races. Martin Whitmarsh.
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 is the coolest birthday present you can get, well it is for me anyway!
After such a great season in 2007 I think the approach will be very, very similar to last year. We have a better car, a new teammate and as a team are stronger and as a driver I have developed so much over one season that I will be a lot stronger next season than last year. So with the same mentality, approach and determination we can do well. Lewis Hamilton.
Of course for me it is a fantastic opportunity. It is a big step forward in my career to join McLaren. So far I have been impressed with what I have seen at the factory in Woking, meeting engineers, meeting people.
Everyone is determined to return to the top and I will do the maximum I can before the first race, to start the season well in Melbourne and hopefully have some good results. Heikki Kovalainen.