FEBRUARY 3, 1997
Ron Dennis on the MP4-12
THE process by which the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-12 was designed was not particularly radical.
"What we set out to achieve was to examine every single component of last year's car to see if we could improve each and every one of them, either by making them stronger for the weight or lighter or, in many instances, by combining several components into one so as to cut down on the overall number of constituent parts. The desire was to reduce the center of gravity at every opportunity, pushing anything with any weight as low as it could go in the car. This presented some very serious packaging problems but was done very successfully.
"Every component on the new car is better and it is the sum of the total that will give us the performance we hope for.
"The process has involved some manufacturing innovations, notably in production of the suspension. This was quite a challenge as the depth-to-width ratio of the suspension was changed in the new regulations and that meant that manufacturing aerodynamically-optimized parts became extremely difficult. We developed a new technique to do that.
"It is well-known that McLaren introduced destructive and non-destructive procedures for testing everything on the car a long time ago. We pride ourselves on being able to track every single component to levels comparable with American aerospace standards throughout its life. We know who manufactured it, from what materials and from which drawings and we know where each part has run on a car.
"So far in testing we have run only with the traditional 40kgs of fuel in the cars. Running with low fuel loads has little or no relevance to the racing and therefore would constitute time wasted as regards the process of optimizing the car for racing."
"We think we have put in a huge amount of effort and Mercedes has as well - both at Ilmor and in Stuttgart. We have had to catch up with Renault but we are now closer than ever. If effort wins in motor racing then we're going to win. But we will have to wait until the first GP to know how much effort others have put in."