The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has unveiled its 2008 championship contender at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa will test the MP4-23 on January 9 in Jerez, Spain.
Sporting few changes from last season’s MP4-22, the MP4-23 appears similar to its predecessor, but with plans to change and enhance aerodynamics, bodywork and bargeboards before the season opener in Australia.
The MP4-23 will be powered by the Mercedes-Benz FO 108V, which has evolved from last year’s engine. However, under rules in place since 2007, the engine specification has now been homologated by the FIA to a substantially fixed level, which will be frozen until the end of the 2010 season. The final specification of the new FO108V engine has been based on the reliable FO108T that powered last season’s car.
Other engine regulations remain unchanged from last season, including the 19 000 r/min operating limit and the rule requiring one engine to be used on two consecutive race weekends.
The MP4-23’s standardised Electronic Control Unit (ECU) for powertrain control and data logging has been developed by McLaren Electronic Systems together with its Technical Partner Microsoft on behalf of the FIA and will run FIA-approved software. One of the ECU’s main features is the elimination of all driver aids, including traction control, which allowed maximum traction without wheel spin. Without traction control the driver’s abilities to control the car play a greater role in the race.
Development of the MP4-23 began 10 months ago, and had to incorporate the new regulations set by the FIA. McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh said that the 2008 contender “will be a step forward for the team as it seeks to chase championship success in 2008.”
“From today we have 68 working days until the Australian Grand Prix, and everybody within the team is highly motivated to travel to Melbourne with the most competitive package possible.”
With Hamilton and newly-signed Kovalainen behind the wheel, McLaren aims to make the right headlines in 2008, and do away with the shadow that’s been hanging over them since the spy scandal during the 2007 season.