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McLaren-Mercedes 2011 Formula 1 car unveiled

McLaren-Mercedes showed off its MP4-26 2011 F1 car in Berlin today. The chassis of the new car was wheeled out by McLaren-Mercedes mechanics and slowly assembled in front of an audience.

Rory Reid

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McLaren-Mercedes' 2011 Formula 1 car will sport a raft of 'revolutionary' design tweaks to increase downforce and boost straight line speed that the company says will give it the edge over Ferrari and Red Bull.

Unveiled in Berlin this morning, the MP4-26 definitely looked the part. Its appearance isn't too far removed from the 2010 MP4-25, but there were several notable innovations. The car's sidepods -- the bits that stick out on either side of the driver -- sported a design we've not previously seen on an F1 car.

The vents at the front of each sidepod have a distinctive 'L' shape, as opposed to the flattened 'O' design on the front of the previous car. McLaren-Mercedes believes this will allow more airflow to the rear wing, increasing downforce.

The MP4-26's front wing is also intriguing. Unlike the previous car, which often featured curved winglet designs, the MP4-26 sports a mixture of flat, ladder-style winglets (as seen on Red Bull's 2011 F1 cars) as well as the curved type seen on last year's MP4-25. The wing endplates on the new car are also more intricate, sporting at least three slots.

The MP4-26 will have a movable rear wing, which, by default, is angled slightly upwards to provide more downforce. At push of a button, however, the driver may flatten his wing, lowering drag and increasing top speed to pass another car. This manoeuvre is only permitted when the driver is within one second of the car in front, and only if on a straight.

There is plenty going on below the surface, too. We understand the MP4-26 will feature a battery-operated KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which captures energy when braking, and storing it in a Lithium-ion cell. This, in turn, powers an electric motor that provides an extra 80hp for a total of 6.7 seconds per lap, which should come in handy for daring overtaking manoeuvres.

That's all we have for now, but make sure you check through our photo gallery above for pictures of the car.

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