'MP4-27 not a cautious car'

McLaren MD says 2012 machine is much-changed from last year's

Last Updated: 01/02/12 7:05pm

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McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale has told Sky Sports News that their "reassuringly expensive" new car is anything but cautious.

The covers came off the new MP4-27 on Wednesday but whilst Neale refused to divulge the cost of its development, he did claim it was a major overhaul of last year's chassis and said that updates will come thick and fast.

When asked for a price tag, Neale coolly responded: "We make four chassis during the course of a year, so we spend all year doing four cars - you take the total bill and divide by four.

"But the car is only a snap shot of a moment in time. It's constantly being changed and that machine you saw this morning is the latest incarnation of a research and development and will already be obsolete by the time we get to the first races."

Neale also hinted that McLaren were keeping an eye on the FIA as they run their rule over the MP4-27 and its new developments.

Two weeks ago, the governing body threw out a reactive ride-height system developed by Lotus as they decided it affected a car's aerodynamics illegally.

Anxious

When asked whether they have reason to fret, Neale replied: "Always, at this time of year I think. When you've made the kind of changes we have done - consider there's only five per cent of that car that is anything like what we raced in Brazil at the end of last year, there's an awful lot of things we've changed and are going to test over the next three weeks.

"It's anxious times for us to make sure it all works as we expect. But we're confident. It's certainly not a cautious car; if you're going to be at the front end of Formula 1 then you know the competition is going to be good."

Although McLaren finished a distant second to Red Bull last year as Sebastian Vettel romped to the title, Neale said he would not swap the German for Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton.

"There have been moments during the last year when you look up the road and you think 'that looks pretty good'," he admitted. "But we've got two fantastic drivers - back-to-back British World Champions.

"Lewis and Jenson are great to be with and very demanding of us as a team. The expectation is on us, the engineering and management team, to give them a car that's worthy.

"We know that they are more than capable of beating anybody on the grid, given the right tools to get the job done.

"If they do a fantastic job on Saturday afternoon, they are of course brilliant, outstanding and gifted. If they don't, it's my fault because the car's not good. That's the way it runs."

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Long season

Neale also hopes that Hamilton, whose contract expires in 2012, will stay with McLaren, although he denied they felt any pressure to sit down and discuss new terms in the near future.

"This is Lewis's team, as it is Jenson's team now. We very much hope that Lewis will continue to be here as part of the family and win more races with us in years to come," he added.

"We've a long season ahead of us and we don't feel under any pressure to get that done in the next two or three weeks. But we're all working towards that and we sincerely hope that's the case."

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