Ambitious McLaren Unveiled But No Lowe Show

Last season’s third-placed McLaren team showed their new car to the world at a launch event which was bathed in history. A number of the team’s previous race and championship-winning cars were on show on the day when the Woking squad displayed their 2013 machinery, along with the two men who will drive it.

The car which the team had on show looked to have a number of interesting changes and managing director Jonathan Neale praised the team’s desire to move forward in an aggressive way.

“When you have small regulation changes, do you do something conservative or do something more ambitious?” he said.

“On this occasion we have chosen to be more ambitious.

“We believe that rather than run out of gas in the middle of the season it gives us more development potential.”

Jenson Button started 2012 as the team’s official lead driver, having finished the 2011 season ahead of then-team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Now with Hamilton gone from McLaren, Button is the team leader in every way. He may have only been at the team since 2010, but he has been consistently praised by the team and is the sport’s leader in total number of races started at 228. Entering his fourteenth year as a Formula One driver, Button is confident that the issues he had during qualifying last season will not bother him this term, and praised the team’s open approach to any issues the drivers may have.

“Qualifying at times last year was not good at all,” Button acknowledged. “I still go back to it being the issue that I have had in my career in terms of getting my tyres working and in the working range.

“I don’t know why that is – I must drive differently to everyone else on the grid. We have learned a lot from last season and we have made steps forward.

“We also have a tyre in 2013 that does help me. It has a much wider working range so I am not fearful of those issues again.

“We start the season with a clean slate and fighting for pole position at each race and fighting for a win at each race.”

Perez adds a new flavour to McLaren

Perez adds a new flavour to McLaren

Button has gotten used to new team-mates in his career and will go through the motions again as Sergio Perez aims to fill the boots of Lewis Hamilton. The Mexican is heading into his third season of F1 racing, and it is a risk for a team of high standing like McLaren to take a driver who has not got much experience. Perez did well in 2012, finishing on the podium a number of times and narrowly missing out on a win. He hailed his preparations, saying fitness would not be a problem and that a full understanding of the season’s new Pirelli-manufactured tyres would not be developed until the first race in Australia.

“We have done an incredible job to prepare ourselves,” said Perez. “I have never been this fit and still have one month to go, so I am enthusiastic.

“When I come here, I work through like Ayrton [Senna], my idol, so it is a very good motivation.”

“There are no guarantees. I haven’t tried the McLaren yet,” he said. “The most important thing is to maximise our potential, maximise our understanding.

“It will be difficult in winter testing to have an understanding, but once we get to Melbourne when it is hot we will have a better idea of the tyres.”

Lowe is a long-standing member of McLaren

Lowe is a long-standing member of McLaren

One member of McLaren who has been the centre of attention in recent days has been technical director Paddy Lowe. He was not present at the launch.The Englishman joined the team in 1993 in a Research And Development capacity, moving to his current role of technical director in 2011. He has been rumoured to be courted by Mercedes but McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh was quick to state where Lowe, who did not attend the car launch, would be for the coming year, but non-committal on the future.

“Clearly there is a lot of media interest and I think it is good that Paddy concentrates on doing his job,” said Whitmarsh.

“I don’t think he wants to create embarrassment to his team or his colleagues, so on his own election he felt it not appropriate to be here.”

“One certainty is that Paddy will be part of the team for another year,” Whitmarsh said. “It’s less certain beyond that.

“That is something that we will have some certainty on in the near future.”

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