McLaren will launch on January 19

THE West McLaren Mercedes team is to launch its new MP4/17 car in Barcelona on January 19, which is very early compared to usual McLaren launches. This has set tongues wagging in the F1 fraternity as the team usually spends as much time as possible maximizing the research and development time. The suggestion therefore is that the launch has been pushed forward to enable to team to do more development work on the all-new Mercedes-Benz V10 engine.

We have heard a few whispers that this unit has been less than impressive on the dynos at Ilmor Engineering in Brixworth and that McLaren wants to get the unit up and running as quickly as possible to see whether there is a problem. There have even been some suggestions in recent weeks that the team might start the new season with the 2001 car, which would be a neat way to go on using the old engine while the new one is developed.

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