Jenson Button was clearly delighted to see that McLaren had not followed the design direction expected to be adopted by many of its rivals ahead of the 2012 F1 campaign - although he also hopes that its treatment of the MP4-27 proves to be a winning one.

After Caterham's initial offering, the CT01, received mixed reviews for its 'stepped nose' look, experts warned that the majority of the field could end up revealing similar concepts as the reworking of the rulebook left designers with little leeway if they were to balance legality and ultimate aerodynamic efficiency. McLaren, however, unveiled a more conventional front end when the covers came off its 2012 contender on Wednesday (1 February).

"This is a beautiful car - many of them that you see will not be!" Button noted, "There are some good rule changes that I think are giving the engineers and aerodynamicists something to really think about this year, but also there's a change in the front, to the nose of the car, of the height of the nose of the car. [Beauty] is something that we definitely have and, for me, that's important."

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton agreed, calling the MP4-27 'probably the most refined-looking car we've had for some time', before the pair got stuck into discussing the nitty-gritty of what the technical rule changes - notably the resiting of exhaust exits and resulting loss of 'blown diffusers' - would mean to them and their respective driving styles.

"There's a lot more basic aerodynamics on the car compared to probably what there was in 2011," Button acknowledged, "It's a lot of downforce [to lose] obviously, and you would say it's more at one end than the other, but you would always try and balance that so the feeling that you have in the car is good. It's just a different way of working with the aerodynamics."

"I think Jenson answered it really well," Hamilton added, "It is about finding the balance. Last year, we obviously had a lot of weight and a lot of downforce coming from the rear of the car, and we were always trying to balance it - and struggling to balance it - by trying to get enough front in. But I think, this year, it will be the other way round, we'll probably have too much front and trying to find more rear.

"I think, in terms of driving, we have yet to really put it to the test how much we have to change our driving style for the tyres, but I'm sure it's going to be a real challenge. We'll lose a lot of downforce without the blown diffuser. When we were on power last year, and when we were off power, we had an incredible amount of downforce just coming from the back floor with the exhaust blowing and we don't have that this year. That's really the biggest loss for us, [but] we are trying to regain it in all other ways."

Although, to the naked eye, the MP4-27 appears to be an evolution of the car that took Button and Hamilton to three wins apiece in 2011, the pair were quick to pick up differences between them

"Obviously, we've changed the sidepods, as we had the L-shaped sidepods last year," Hamilton pointed out, "The front of the car is generally the same, [although] obviously the nose dips down a little bit different to last year. We've also changed our wing mirrors a little bit, so hopefully we'll be able to see a lot better, which is something that I was pushing hard for - and I'm sure [Ferrari's] Felipe [Massa] will be very happy with that.

"The back of the car is a lot neater than it was last year, much, much tighter. They've focused very much on making it as snug as possible at the back to improve aerodynamics, and it's just completely refined. Obviously, the wing is a little bit better in terms of dropping drag, and we've tried our best to improve the rear floor, especially with no blown diffuser this year but, as we get into the season, I think we'll slowly begin to improve and find out where that downforce can come from."

After the failed experiment with the 'octopus' exhaust last season, McLaren knows that it cannot afford to lose precious time trying to get radical design ideas to work in the limited amount of pre-season testing available, and Button is quick to emphasise the need to his the ground running if the Woking team is to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari.

"It's very important," the 2009 world champion agreed, "We know we've got to come out the box and be strong. The important thing about testing, it is what it says on the
tin: it's testing. It's about finding your feet throughout the days before the first race so that you arrive at the first race with confidence in the people you're working with, and also in the car that you're driving. It's a very, very important time for the whole season."

Admitting that, while the days before the first laps are completed with any new car are filled with trepidation, Button expressed confidence in his team to have got the job done.

"We're excited," he enthused, "I'm sure every team is a little bit apprehensive when it comes to testing, but, you know, I can't wait to jump into the car. I've been here for two years, but already I feel like I'm part of the team, and it's very important to have that atmosphere where you all work together, you build the team together, and you race as a team. You win and you lose together, and that is key to any team, be it a football team, a rugby team or an F1 team.

"That's something that is very good here, everyone on this team seems to be very positive when they go into a new season. Even when things haven't quite gone their way or the team's way over the winter, they're still very positive knowing they can really pull themselves to the front. And you can see that, because almost every year that
this team races in F1, they are challenging for a world championship, or very close to it, and they always come away with race victories. It's a great place to be, and I've really enjoyed my time here so far. This is only the beginning...."


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