MARCH 22, 2011
McLaren bins trick exhaust
McLaren will go to the first Grand Prix in Melbourne with a heavily revised MP4-26 car that it hopes will find a second a lap in performance after a problematic round of pre-season testing in Spain.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will run without the complex exhaust and floor treatment that thus far appears to have compromised both reliability and aerodynamic performance.
Testing analysis appeared to suggest that McLaren was between a second and two seconds behind the front-running pace. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "It will be a simpler design. The exhaust systems have become quite extreme on quite a lot of cars and I think we had particularly extreme solutions. They did not deliver sufficient benefits for their complexity.
"The car is not fundamentally bad," he added, "but we need to unlock the exhaust-blowing potential. We had some very creative ideas, some of which could have worked spectacularly well. But they had to be sufficiently durable to be raceable and, frankly, some of our solutions weren't."
Some may view it as a risk making fundamental changes to a car's layout at such a late stage but the logistics of the first three flyaway races mean that once the cars have been freighted, it is difficult to make swingeing changes before the start of the European season, round 4 in Turkey on May 8. History has oft proven the importance of scoring points early in the season and McLaren has obviously decided that the less risky option is not to risk a repeat of the unreliability witnessed in testing, especially without an upside in performance.