The McLaren-Mercedes MP4-18

The Mercedes MP4-18 will run for the first time today at the Paul Ricard circuit in the South of France. Alexander Wurz will give the new car its first shakedown laps while David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen will continue their development work on the MP4-17D alongside second test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

The MP4-18 is shorter and lower than the current car and is built around the Mercedes-Benz FO 110P V10, which was purpose-built for the car after lengthy consultation between McLaren designers and Mercedes-Ilmor and Mercedes-Benz engineers. The team's aim was to extract the maximum performance from the current F1 regulations and has followed the trend set by Ferrari as being a much smaller car than its predecessor with the main thrust being on aerodynamic efficiency but also attention having been paid to the way in which Michelin tyres work with the chassis. The car is the work of Adrian Newey, Mike Coughlan and Neil Oatley and their team of engineers in Woking.

"This car has probably had more research put into it than any other car I have worked on," says Newey. "There are clearly visible developments to the car, such as the shorter, lower nose and the rear end. The MP4-18 is generally much smaller than its predecessor, and is quite tightly packed to achieve this. We have included some developments that aim to improve the aerodynamic efficiency, we have further increased attention to detail, and used some advanced materials in its construction. Our simulation results look promising, in terms of the MP4-18's performance step over the MP4-17D, but by definition simulation is not always 100 percent accurate, so we have the usual sense of excitement and expectation before running the new car this week at Paul Ricard."

The team has yet to decide when the new car will first be raced.

"Our long-term strategy is to re-establish the team as a consistent winner, through increasing overall competitiveness and reliability," says managing director Martin Whitmarsh. "To achieve this demands significant, rather than incremental, steps. One such step was to provide the design teams at McLaren International and Mercedes-Benz, with the opportunity to develop the MP4-18 and the new engine in a time frame which allowed greater innovation."

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