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McLaren 2005 contender makes track debut - with pictures (Updated)

NEWS STORY
24/01/2005

The West McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 Formula One car took to the track for the first time today at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel. The track debut of the team's 2005 challenger marks the start of an intensive five-day test session, which will see Kimi joined by team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya later this week.

"A lot of time, effort and work has been invested in the new car, with the engineers working more for us than ever before," said Kimi. "My first impression after these few laps is a good one, however, the work for me and my driver colleagues starts only now." The Finn will continue to drive MP4-20 until Thursday, when Juan Pablo will take the wheel.

"Since MP4-20 was fired up for the first time at 02:30am on the morning of Thursday 20th January at the McLaren Technology Centre, the anticipatory atmosphere of the car's initial run within the team has been building and we are pleased to have completed its shakedown this morning," said Ron Dennis, Team Principal, West McLaren Mercedes. "Today's unveiling is the first tangible demonstration of the team's preparations for the 2005 season, a year that has the potential to be exciting and positive for all the teams, our Partners and the fans alike. There is feverish work taking place across the team to achieve the best possible result for the this year"

The design of the MP4-20 has been heavily influenced by significant revisions to both the sporting and technical regulations that govern Formula One in four key areas: engine lifespan, limitations on tyre use, aerodynamics and race weekend format particularly for qualifying.

"A Formula One car is a fully integrated machine," commented Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes. "As a consequence, regulation changes to the extent we have seen ahead of the 2005 season, have had a major impact on the configuration of the entire package. The revisions created an interesting challenge for our design team under Adrian Newey, Mike Coughlan and Neil Oatley, and the result is a car that looks quite different from last year. Mercedes-Ilmor on the engine side has to cope with similar technical and timescale challenges."

The aerodynamic modifications have led to the most visible differences on the car, to the design of the chassis, which has been exclusively developed in the design office and wind tunnel facilities at the McLaren Technology Centre. These include the raising of the front wing by 50mm, restricting the height of the diffuser to 125mm and bringing the rear wing package forward by 150mm.

McLaren Racing's Technical Director Adrian Newey added, "With the regulations, particularly on the aerodynamic side, being set comparatively late resulting in even harder and more dedicated work from all members of the team to get MP4-20 on track today. This has seen positive collaboration with all our Technology Partners, particularly Michelin in adapting to the extended use requirements of tyres for the coming season, when they have to last the entire race distance. The spec for MP4-20 was set in May 2004 and this saw the start of wind tunnel work at the McLaren Technology Centre. The timescales have been challenging but that is all part of the excitement of Formula One."

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