Feb 012013
 

Just like Sergio Perez is shaping up to emulate Lewis Hamilton, McLaren can also live without technical director Paddy Lowe, Jenson Button said on Thursday.

Jenson-Button“People move on,” said Button, who after Michael Schumacher’s return to retirement is now the most experienced driver on the entire formula one grid.

Although still at McLaren in 2013, Lowe was conspicuously absent on Thursday as McLaren launched its new car, amid rumours he is on the brink of switching to Mercedes.

Button, though, said the Woking based team will cope no matter what happens.

“Like with Lewis, it was a big shock initially, then you regroup and train someone else up to be in that position.

“We’ve got to wait and see what happens.  Paddy has to decide.  It’s going to be hanging in the air, if there are rumours about somebody moving on.

“Whatever he decides I won’t have an issue with it,” he insisted.

Indeed, the 33-year-old said he is “damn excited” about 2013; his fourth consecutive year at McLaren, and his first without Hamilton as his teammate.

“It’s strange,” Button said, attempting to explain his excitement.  “Maybe it’s because I know the direction we are taking with the car.

“Or it’s because it’s a fresh start and a new teammate.”

That new teammate is Mexican Sergio Perez, who at 22 is stepping into former world champion Hamilton’s cockpit.

Button was quick to compare his two McLaren teammates.

“It’s good to see he (Perez) has really been getting into the spirit of McLaren and spending a lot of time here, either doing sponsor activities or developing his relationship with the team,” he said.

“When Lewis and myself were here together we never used to see each other.  It used to be one day in the simulator and out the other.”

As for the chromium car they will be racing, the MP4-28 appears almost identical to its predecessor, but the real differences are actually significant.

First, there is a ‘step’ nose, even though it’s not visible, as McLaren has taken up the FIA’s option of installing a laminate ‘modesty panel’.

Tim Goss, McLaren’s engineering director, said the panel “weighs practically nothing”.

But when Lotus unveiled its 2013 car with a clearly visible ‘step’ in the nose, technical director James Allison said the laminate would weigh too much and have no performance benefit.

“I don’t understand that,” Goss is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

“The cover is not only because of appearance; a smooth surface is aerodynamically always better than a split level.”

Also unlike Lotus, McLaren has overlooked the option of a ‘passive’ double-DRS system for its 2013 car.

Goss admitted his team had “experimented” with the concept, ultimately concluding that the potential advantage is quite small.

“Three teams tried to develop such a system for racing last year,” he explained, “and none succeeded.”

But a major difference between the 2012 McLaren and the new MP4-28 is Ferrari-style ‘pull-rod’ front suspension; a concept not seen in formula one since early last decade.

“Naturally, you look at the ideas of the competition, but to be honest, when Ferrari did it, we asked ourselves ‘Why on earth would they do that?’

“Only a long investigation showed that it is quite useful.  The aerodynamic benefits outweigh the potential problems,” said Goss.

© RIF | GMM