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McLaren first to confirm launch date

NEWS STORY
18/01/2016

McLaren is the first team to officially announce the launch date of its 2016 contender.

The MP4-31 will be unveiled on Sunday 21 February, the day before the opening pre-season test gets underway at Barcelona.

In the wake of a disastrous 2015 season, which saw the multi-championship winners slip to ninth in the constructors' standings, the Woking outfit will be expecting a major step forward with the MP4-31.

Meanwhile, team boss Eric Boullier has confirmed the team will stick with its controversial 'size zero' concept, the extremely tight packaging arrangement at the rear of the MP4-30 which some cite as the cause of many of the problems surrounding Honda's return to the sport.

Having insisted he has "no regrets" concerning the aggressive packings of the Honda unit in 2015, Boullier told Autosport: "If you want to win you don't copy the others. You need to do something better.

"We knew we would have to go through some pain," he admitted, "although we were not expecting what we felt, which was huge. But we also knew we had to work on solutions that would be better than the currently dominant forces."

Asked if the concept would be maintained this year, the Frenchman said: "Yes, definitely."

The MP4-31 will be the first car designed with Peter Prodromou back in charge of the aerodynamics department at Woking. Prodromou, who previously worked for McLaren between 1991 and 2006, rejoined the Woking team in late 2014 after a successful stint at Red Bull.

Though he didn't play a part in the original design of the MP4-30 it is widely felt his influence began to make its mark in the second half of the season, a view shared by Boullier.

"The major influence of Pete was bringing a new philosophy, a new way of understanding and building aero," admitted the Frenchman. "That has been a major step forward.

"There were changes, we moved a few people, with Pete on top providing the lead, and it's working well, I'm very happy, with the car getting better and better.

"You have to remember that Formula 1 five years ago was free to develop, but we are not any more. There are more restrictions, and more restrictions means it's more difficult to catch up, and we are still catching up. But the car [MP4-31) is already better than last year, so it looks like we are go for another step."

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