Vodafone McLaren Mercedes today presented the MP4-23, the team’s 2008 Formula 1 car, at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
Following the unveiling the car will be transported to the Circuito de Jerez in Southern Spain, where on Wednesday 9thJanuary Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa will start the test programme with two MP4-23 chassis at a private test. The team will remain at the circuit for five track days, excluding the weekend. Lewis will drive the 2008 car for the first time on Thursday 10th January alongside Heikki.
"I have had the past three weeks off and spent the time training and relaxing with family and friends. I know how much work has been going on in Woking, Brixworth and here in Stuttgart and it is a great looking car. My engineer has told me that approximately 14,000 manufacturing man hours have been involved to produce the car in time for today. I will be testing it for the first time on Thursday. It is going to be a busy time but myself, Heikki, who I welcome as my new teammate, and everyone within the team is looking forward to it as we push forward together."
"Today is my first official event as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver and it hasn’t come soon enough. After joining the team on the 14th December, I have already spent some time at the McLaren Technology Centre getting to know everybody and working with my engineers. It is also great to be here at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart today to meet the Mercedes-Benz employees, media and VIP guests for the first time as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. I was able to learn a lot last year, and hope to take that knowledge into the 2008 season. I am looking forward to contributing to the development of the car during the six main tests in the build-up to Melbourne. It is a really exciting time for me to be joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes."
RON DENNIS, CHAIRMAN & CEO, McLAREN GROUP "The ultimate goal of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is to fight for both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships. We are looking forward to another competitive season as we look to build on the momentum of last year. Every single member of the team has worked extremely hard since the end of the 2007 season to get the MP4-23 on track as soon as possible, to ensure we have the maximum amount of testing time available before the cars leave for Australia. We are all extremely pleased to have the opportunity to launch our new car at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart underlining the strength of our partnership."
MARTIN WHITMARSH, CEO FORMULA 1, VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES "Development of the MP4-23 began in earnest 10 months ago and everyone in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart have worked very hard during the last few weeks, and particularly over the Christmas period, to make today’s presentation here in Stuttgart happen. In addition we have continued to benefit from tremendous support from all of our Technology Partners. We are confident, based upon the simulation and analysis which has been an integral part of the development process, that the MP4-23 represents a step forward. Of course we will continue to develop the car from now until the first race in Australia and see whether we have done enough to be at the level where we want to compete this coming season. From today we have 68 working days until the Australian Grand Prix, and everybody within the team is highly motivated to travel to Melbourne with the most competitive package possible."