I spent a couple of teenage summers working at a camp where, every August, the director would announce his retirement. And every year, he'd be back... until one year he wasn't, and everyone was surprised. Meanwhile, the motorsport press has speculated on the retirement of McLaren team principal Ron Dennis for years now, but every year he'd be back on the pit lane wall. Now Ron's actually moving on, and this is the last car designed and produced under his direction.
It's called the MP4-24, and like those of McLaren's competitors -- including the recently-launched Ferrari F60 and Toyota TF109 -- the new car has to conform to the revised regulations. That means a bigger front wing and a smaller rear one with fewer little aero bits in between. Underneath is McLaren's KERS regenerative braking system, and the ECU which the team is now supplying to the entire grid. The MP4-24, which carries on the same chrome and Vodafone-red livery as last year's, was unveiled at the team's ultra-high-tech headquarters in Woking, England, after which the team's test driver Pedro de la Rosa took it for its first laps at the newly constructed Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. McLaren's reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and his Finnish team-mate Heikki Kovalainen will take over from de la Rosa in the coming days, when several of the other teams will begin testing as well in the ramp-up to the Australian Grand Prix which kicks off the season on March 29. But not before the rest of the teams unveil their cars, so stay tuned.