|McLaren previewed their new car today: the MP4-12 with the Mercedes-Benz FO110E VI0 engine in the back and their two drivers: Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Ron Dennis said the car was about 90 percent new. This is also caused by new technical regulations: a rear impact zone and a collapsable steering column and some other things.
The new McLaren-Mercedes painted in orange, because McLaren's early heritage, will now be shipped to Jerez (Spain) where it will be tested, first by Coulthard and then by Hakkinen.
The drivers wear silver overalls which gives them a kind of astronaut look.
Dennis did not want to make any predictions on the new car but he did say that Mercedes and the sponsors "could not put any more pressure on us than exists within the team anyway. The pressure to win is self-inflicted."
the MP4-12: photo by McLaren International
The 1997 livery of the car will become clear at the official presentation on February 14.
Team boss Ron Dennis took today's opportunity to criticise the new regulations regarding testing set out by the FIA in the Concorde Agreement last year: "I don't think any team can get the amount of testing it wants to now. I can understand the philosophy behind the changes, but I am a little free-market orientated and testing, although expensive, is the cheapest way of developing a racing car. Teams may be forced to simulate improvements because if you can't evaluate them in the real environment then you will have to do it on a computer."
McLaren was one of the teams which refused to sign the agreement. This means though that they will not receive some of the financial benefits other teams, who have signed, get from the FIA. Dennis was not too worried about this: "It is an extremely difficult situation and there is no simple answer. It is not fully understood by most people, but I hope in the course of the next few days to positively solve the situation and find the most sensible way forward."
Jackie Stewart was very pleased about the first test his SF-1 had on a damp Silverstone circuit. The Scot commented: "This test was very satisfactory considering the conditions."
The drivers Jan Magnussen and Rubens Barrichello completed a total of 24 laps. Barrichello said after the test: "I have a very good feeling from this test. Considering it is its first time on the race track, the car gave us a great deal to be positive about."
It will now be flown to Jerez (Spain) where it will be tested intensively.