McLaren take wing with new car

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The Independent Online

McLaren-Mercedes unveiled their much-vaunted Formula One car in London yesterday and fended off the inevitable suspicions and inquiries by insisting it was legal.

The MP4/10 features a revolutionary central wing, positioned behind the driver's head to produce extra down-force and compensate for some of the loss intended in the amendment of regulations for this season's world championship. McLaren have also introduced new aerodynamics to the underbody and have gone for the widely favoured high nose.

Ron Dennis, the managing director of McLaren, said: "It has obviously been designed and prepared to the limit of the regulations and I believe they permit us to achieve all we can with this design. I think the job done is very clever. We wanted as much aerodynamic assistance as we could get. It's not a loophole, just an area no one else has considered exploring."

Nigel Mansell, McLaren's new driver, predicts the radical concept will have other teams back in their wind tunnels to come up with their own versions. The season starts in Brazil on 26 March.

The 41-year-old former world champion said: "It is the first chance I have had to see it and if it goes as quick as it looks everyone else had better watch out. I can't wait to get in it. The potential of the whole package is just phenomenal.

"The new regulations have meant the playing field in Formula One has probably never been so level. There are so many new ideas that I believe we have an exciting era ahead of us."

Mansell, who partners the Finn Mika Hkkinen, is due to begin testing the MP4/10 at Estoril, Portugal, later this month.

Jos Verstappen, the 22-year- old Dutchman, has been released "on loan" by Benetton- Renault to race for Simtek this season. He remains Benetton's first reserve and could be recalled if required.

Verstappen will be partnered at Simtek by the Italian Mimo Sciattarella, the British constructors announced yesterday.