F1: McLaren unveil Hamilton’s MP4-26 at Berlin car launch

PUBLISHED: 12:11 04 February 2011 | UPDATED: 10:41 06 February 2011

The new McLaren MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

The new McLaren MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

HOCH ZWEI / Michael Kunkel

THE radically redesigned Formula 1 car Herts-born Vodafone McLaren Mercedes hero Lewis Hamilton will drive this season has been unveiled.

An overhead view of the new McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com / Patrick Gosling]

Former F1 world champions Hamilton, 26, and Jenson Button were at the unique launch of McLaren’s new MP4-26 challenger in Germany today (Friday).

The 2011 McLaren reveal took place in an open-air plaza, with mechanics, team members and dozens of Vodafone competition winners bringing out components bit by bit, watched by hundreds of fans in the Potsdamer Platz near the former Berlin Wall.

Sporting the number three, the gleaming red and silver machine was then pieced together in front of the world’s media and German public, with coverage streamed live on McLaren’s website at www.mclaren.com

Hamilton and Button assembled the final touches before having their photographs taken in front of the new McLaren MP4-26.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com / Patrick Gosling]

Looking radically different from last year’s race-winning chassis, the MP4-26 features a range of aerodynamic features designed to take advantage of new rules significantly limiting the amount of downforce that can be derived from the car’s underbody.

These most notably include distinctive U-shaped sidepods – to feed air more efficiently to the car’s rear-end – and an electronically adjustable rear-wing system, introduced for 2011 to increase the potential for overtaking.

Lewis, who’s family live in Tewin, said: “This is the first time we’ve seen the car all together.

“We’ve seen it in the wind tunnel. But it looks even better in full size. It looks fantastic.”

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with the new McLaren MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

The 2008 FIA F1 world champion added: “Having spent the past few weeks talking with our designers and engineers, I feel extremely happy that we’ve created a car that will once again allow us to fight at the front.”

Button added: “It looks beautiful.”

Hamilton will get the chance to drive the new McLaren for the first time in Jerez, Spain, next week.

McLaren test driver Gary Paffett will shake down MP4-26 during a private session at the Idiada Proving Ground in Spain on Tuesday, before Hamilton begins track testing at the Circuito de Jerez on Thursday, February 10.

Formula 1 fans can get a virtual feel of being behind the wheel before then though, by taking a 3D look at the car via McLaren’s website, click on the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes link above right.

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