There are only few Formula 1 teams that have not launched their 2011 challengers including HRT and Virgin. That number has reduced with the launch of McLaren’s MP4-26 in Berlin yesterday. In terms of livery, it would be difficult to notice any changes compared to the 2010 car. It looks very much the same albeit some changes on the vehicle design.

The most notable change is the unique U-shaped sidepod. The Woking-based team claims that the radical sidepod design feeds more air efficiently to the MP4-26’s rear end, thus increasing downforce. The team says that this makes up for the absence of the double diffuser system following a ban imposed for this season.

“We want to get the rear-end working as well as possible following the loss of performance caused by the banning of the double-diffuser. Once again, we’ve really pushed the car’s cooling configuration: we’ve got a second air intake on the engine cover for gearbox and hydraulic cooling,” said McLaren Engineering Director Tim Goss.

Other features include a long wheelbase, a modified airbox and nose, a central-mounted rear exhaust system as well as other aerodynamic features that comply with the new set of rules. Just like its rivals, McLaren has also opted for KERS which was last seen in 2009 and an active rear wing, which is a moveable rear wing that can be manually operated from the steering wheel. There are also the Pirelli tires.

The team will perform a shakedown during a private test session at the Idiada Ground in Spain on 8th February. This will be followed by further testing along with other teams in Jerez which begins on 10th February. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will race the MP4-26 this year. Continue reading to view an image gallery.

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