While rival Formula 1 teams unveiled their new 2011 challengers at or before the recently test session at Valencia, McLaren opted to run its 2010 F1 car instead. The reason? Ostensibly to focus on the varied effects the new Pirelli tires. This week in Berlin, however, the British Formula 1 outfit joined the field and took the wraps off its new racer, the MP4-26, revealing a number of innovative and radical design elements.
In the German capital, the team rolled out the car in pieces and put it together in front of the gathered crowd (not unlike the funny Vodafone video starring Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton). McLaren used a plastic engine and exhaust system so as not to reveal all their secrets, but what we do know is that MP4-26 F1 car features a longer-than-usual wheelbase, an even higher nosecone than its rivals, and odd U-shaped sidepods. That last feature is designed to channel cleaner air to the new rear wing in an effort to regain downforce lost from the regulatory elimination of the double diffuser.
The MP4-26 is also the first McLaren Formula 1 car designed to accomodate Jenson Button's taller frame, since last year's racer was largely finalized before his release from Brawn GP. McLaren remains secretive on the rest of the design, releasing only the handful of images you can see in the gallery below. Has McLaren got enough tricks up its sleeve to drive Button or Hamilton to another title? We'll just have to wait and see.