Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 2011 F1 car eyes-on

Vodafone and McLaren Mercedes have unveiled the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 F1 car at the Sony Centre in Berlin. And Pocket-lint was in amongst the pack to swoop in and grab a bevy of shots of the new racer ahead of the 2011 Formula One season.

In a first for the company, engineers from McLaren Mercedes brought in separate components of the car, which was then built in front of fans, competition winners and journalists to reveal the new model, before F1 world champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton came to check it out and pose for photos.

Clearly cold (the drivers suits are built for considerably warmer climbs than Berlin in February) the two World Championship winning drivers were intrigued by the design, taking a keen interest in every aspect.

Fans of F1 will notice the new car looks radically different from last year's race-winning chassis, with the MP4-26 sporting a plethora of new 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 a drag reduction system [active rear-wing] introduced for 2011, to increase the potential for overtaking.

Beneath the skin, the car houses an all-new electric KERS [hybrid] system. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, along with its engine partners Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, became the first-ever Formula 1 team to win a grand prix using a hybrid device in 2009, and this new system is expected to further refine that race-winning package.

“We believe if you didn’t race with a KERS system you would be losing places before you start,” Paddy Lowe, McLaren’s technical director told journalists at the car’s unveiling.

“Today has been a great way of revealing an F1 car,” said Jenson Button. “Hopefully they [the fans] can enjoy our success this season.”

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