WOKING, ENGLAND (AP) - Looking for more consistency this year, Formula One team McLaren launched its redesigned MP4-28 car Thursday.
McLaren finished third in the constructors’ championship last season and is in the midst of a major transformation. Lewis Hamilton left for Mercedes and has been replaced by 23-year-old Sergio Perez, who scored three podium finishes for Sauber last season.
According to McLaren, the team’s new car has been redesigned “notably around the nose and front suspension, the sidepod profiles and the rear bodywork.”
Jenson Button said the team will be working “extremely hard during the pre-season to ensure we go to the first race with bulletproof reliability” after a season in which breakdowns cost the team numerous podium finishes.
The 33-year-old Englishman appeared upbeat about the team’s prospects, calling the 2013 car “the best we have ever made.”
“We were extremely strong throughout the whole of the 2012 season, but, for one reason or another, we couldn’t quite pull it all together to challenge for the championships,” Button said. “That’s something we want to address for 2013. I’ve seen just how closely everybody has been working together on this car, and I think we’ve got the basis for a very strong season.”
With a mix of experience and youth, team principal Martin Whitmarsh also said he expected good things from the team.
“For 2013, of course, we go racing to win,” Whitmarsh said. “With Jenson and Checo, and this fantastic-looking new car, I believe we’re extremely well prepared for another competitive season.”
Whitmarsh said Button was driving better than ever while Perez has “immediately proved that he’s intelligent, modest, hard-working and, make no mistake; very, very quick.”
Perez is the first Formula One driver from Mexico to reach the podium in 40 years and his fearless driving has earned him comparisons to Ayrton Senna _ the three-time world champion who died in fatal crash 18 years ago. His success at Sauber caught the eye of McLaren and Perez says he is ready to step into the shoes left behind by Hamilton.
“Seeing such famous cars brought to life today, and knowing that I’m driving for the team on its 50th anniversary - that’s such a special feeling,” Perez said. “Of course, I am fully aware of the steep slope ahead of me.”
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