McLaren reveal their 2008 F1 car: the MP4/23 (updated)

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McLaren have revealed their 2008 Formula 1 challenger in Stuttgart. The team continues its partnership with Mercedes for a 14th consecutive season. The pair have won two drivers’ and one constructors’ title in that time.

With 2008 marking ten years since the team did the double, they will be desperate to bounce back from an acrimonious and bitter 2007 to put some championship silverware on the mantelpiece for the first time since 1999.

See below for more pictures of the 2008 McLaren and video from the launch.

As the team officially finished last in the 2007 world championship their cars will carry the unusually high numbers of 22 and 23. Coincidentally, the 2008 car’s model designation is MP4/23.

The designation ’23’ holds further resonance for the team. The McLaren M23 of the pre-Ron Dennis years appeared in 80 Grands Prix from 1974-8; a total of 177 individual car appearances.

It won 16 races, taking Emerson Fittipaldi to the drivers’ title in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976. The M23 was the last title-winning car produced under the direction of Teddy Mayer before Ron Dennis took over the team in 1980.

Will the MP4/23 enjoy the same success and make a champion out of Lewis Hamilton or Heikki Kovalainen? Coincidentally, Hamilton is 23 today, and he will be given the number 23 car to drive.

Pictures from the 2008 McLaren launch

Here are the first pictures of the new car (click to enlarge):

2008 McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23 (same as top image, high resolution)

Video from the 2008 McLaren launch

Photos: Daimler / McLaren

More about the 2008 F1 season

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “McLaren reveal their 2008 F1 car: the MP4/23 (updated)”

  1. what in the world is going on with those sidepods?

  2. I think that’s your department…

  3. “I think that’s your department…”

    doh! i do like the area around the front suspension, very clean. the way the barge boards sweep around to the main bodywork are a nice touch too.

    i see the team remembered to bring the cardboard overalls. gotta have those sponsor names on display… even if it makes the drivers look like thunderbirds. it looks like today is the first time HK has worn his!

  4. Doesn’t look anything too dramatic though the chrome perhaps makes it a bit harder to judge.

    Is Lewis really getting the number 23? I assumed he would be racing with 22 on the front as he is the self proclaimed “number 1” driver…

  5. “Is Lewis really getting the number 23?”

    according to the official FIA entry list, lewis is getting the 22.

    sounds like ron was desperately searching in vain to find some tangible benefit to being assigned to lowest number on the grid. maybe he stretched the truth a little and tied lewis’ birthday to one of the numbers?

  6. Well, they’ve said he’s getting 23, and just because it is the other way on the FIA entry list doesn’t mean it has to be that way (for example, Super Aguri have said their drivers might not be Sato and Davidson, as it is on the FIA list).

    They should have made something of the connection with the old M23, it’s an interesting coincidence.

  7. “Well, they’ve said he’s getting 23, and just because it is the other way on the FIA entry list doesn’t mean it has to be that way”

    so this year, will we be hearing the “i know my place, i have the number 23 on my car” comment from the man?


  8. He could still get away with saying “I have the number 2 on my car…”

  9. “just because it is the other way on the FIA entry list doesn’t mean it has to be that way (for example, Super Aguri have said their drivers might not be Sato and Davidson, as it is on the FIA list).”

    just had a look at the sporting regs, and point 21.2 says the following:

    “Each car will carry the race number of its driver (or his replacement) as published by the FIA at the beginning of the season. This number must be clearly visible from the front of the car.”

    which would cover the eventuality of the super aguri driver lineup changing, but wouldn’t allow lewis to drive the 23 car unless he replaced kovi.

  10. I think it can still happen, though. I’m pretty sure the Campos drivers in GP2 last year (Vitaly Petrov and Giorgio Pantano) swapped numbers during the season.

    Also Autosport have an interesting story which points out that if you look closely at the drivers’ overalls, they still have Mutua Madrilena logos on them…

    Spanish sponsor quits McLaren for 2008
    Autosport – Mutua Madrilena still a McLaren sponsor (external)

  11. I must admit that if I was Lewis then I would have asked for the number 23 – it is meant to have some sort of mystical powers or something does it not? I seem to recall something said at the time that David Beckham chose that number for his shirt when he moved to Real Madrid. Plus there was a Jim Carrey film about the Number 23 a year or two ago…

    Anyway, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter what number is on the cars!

  12. I can’t see most of the aerodynamical solutions that were included in MP4-22. So i think the car in the pictures is not the car it’s going to race, and a lot of important parts are been hide today.

  13. Craig the biggest number 23 in sport was Michael Jordan.

    By the way, Alonso will run with number 5. He won his first championship with that number.

    Anyway i don’t believe in the supernatural power of the numbers.

  14. Just to chime in here, I believe the number swapping rule was abandoned in 1996 after Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari (could be coincidence, I don’t know (Ferrari then stopped using 27 & 28 because MS had the 1)). Either way, I think the FIA did away with the rule and have stuck with the regular system since.

    An article I wrote ages ago about numbering. I appreciate that because I wrote it doesn’t make it gospel, but I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t believe it to be correct. Look for the middles-ish paragraph starting with “Prior to 1996…”. I’ll try and dig out the source if I can. Although rule 21.2 does look pretty unambiguous to me, for a change.

  15. They kept those uniforms they had from last year??? I thought that they would change the colors at the very least! Apparently not…

    Lewis would look better in silver overalls, while Heikki just looks… odd in those overalls, they seem too tight or something.

  16. Interesting to see Bernie Ecclestone pop up in the ‘family photo’…

  17. Why do McLaren have white overalls and a silver car? Also, who made the decision that the number 13 was unlucky and that it shouldn’t be on any of the cars?

  18. i think kovy will push hamy like hamy pushed alonso.

  19. Don’t get me started about the number 13 thing that winds me up like mad. They spend millions on build giga-high-tech cars like these and then won’t put the number 13 on the side because of some silly superstition…

  20. Just like Alfa Romeo could not release their 164 car in Hong Kong, an extremely superstitious lot, and had to designate it as 168. Because 164 “sounds” like “a path to death” whereas 168 “sounds” like “a path to fortune”. I’ve been brought up around superstition, and I can’t believe people will try to make you believe something that has not been proven to even themselves.

    Speaking of 23’s – Hamilton’s Birthday, Hamilton’s Car No, the car itself is designated 23!

    Back to the launch, I have to say 10/10 for presentation. It looks like an underground resistance bunker, or some old space station (could’ve done without the tacky sci-fi space lifts/pods though).

    When McLaren first adopted this chrome paint job I thought it had something to with reflecting ambient heat in hotter countries, or to distract the competition by glare tactics.

  21. Well, that is just the 2007 Mclaren a little longer and with a 2 or 3 new things… I bet Mclaren has 2 silver Ferraris ready for Australia on it’s werehouse! :) (Just joking, its not that i am Mclaren’s janitor or anything like that!)

  22. Nissan always ask for number 23 when they enter a new championship. In Japanese 2 is Ni and 3 is San.

    I think the launch cars of all the teams will look radically different when they hit the track. McLaren’s nose wing is probably missing to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the Vodafone logos. I expect it to re-appear as soon as the car hits the track.

    I am very curious about Bernie being in the team photo. There has to be a story behind that. Ferrari will probably protest his presence unless he was at their launch as well.

  23. “McLaren’s nose wing is probably missing to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the Vodafone logos. I expect it to re-appear as soon as the car hits the track.”

    good call. sounds very likely.

  24. Apart from a slightly altered nose, as usual, the Mclaren doesn’t seem to have changed much in the past few years. Good thing the drivers wear white though, will look really queer if they were dressed in tin foil.

  25. the lauch venue does look like the inside of a bunker(seige mentality?) – but the car seems very broad – can there be any ground effect with that? – and they do look like they are from thunderbirds – good fun

  26. Heikki does look like a thunderbird in those overalls !
    Or maybe he just looks odd to me as I keep thinking Ferenando should be there.

    As for the car – it looks great – I couldn’t care less if it was white with green polka dots as long as it performs !

  27. “hey do look like they are from thunderbirds – good fun”

    just for kicks… a dress your own heikki doll:

    plus, three simple steps to recreating today’s mclaren launch:

    1) print doll onto stiff paper
    2) cut and fold
    3) play some dodgy dance music

    it’s almost as if you were invited :)

  28. congrats, heikki! Now it’s your turn to play second fiddle to the egotistical boy-wonder!

  29. AmericanTifosi
    8th January 2008, 2:59

    Lewis gets the number 23 MP4/23 on his 23rd birthday. Woah!

  30. A real ‘Silver Arrow’ at last. I think its beautiful.

  31. Quote: “Lewis gets the number 23 MP4/23 on his 23rd birthday. Woah!”

    LOL… You summed it up mate!

  32. From the depths of their underground lair, looks like they are going to war, or are they launching Thunderbird 1? Cannot work it out, but looking at the pictures are they expecting James Bond or even better, Austin Powers to save the day?
    I’m sure Bloefeld or Dr Evil are in there somewhere stroking their furry cats.

  33. sorry about this but it made me laugh!!!

    the second image down from the right looks just like everyone putting fingers upto each other! :D hahaha

  34. Yeah it’s that cheesy ‘phone thing again isn’t it? I bet they love having to do those…

  35. That phone picture is brilliant. How come the other teams don’t do this i.e. the Toyota drivers pointing Panasonic tellies at each other, BMW drivers holding Intel computers, Renault drivers fighting against two rampaging orange ING lions.
    Also, middle picture, second row – what are they all looking at?

  36. Just watched that Reuters video – that man doing the talking is a) a moron and b) a man who, by the sound of it, knows absolutely nothing about F1!

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