Hamilton using short wheelbase MP4/24

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Lewis Hamilton is using a short wheelbase version of the MP4/24 at Valencia this weekend. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen’s MP4/24 has the original wheelbase length.

This caught my attention because of what Martin Whitmarsh told this site earlier this week:

Other teams have historically run much more different cars across the garage than we have. Based on that one extreme experience in Germany I don’t like it and we will always try to provide equal equipment in future.
Martin Whitmarsh

So why have McLaren apparently done the opposite in turning up at Valencia with two different cars? I asked managing director Jonathan Neale:

Ideally, you always want to bring the same upgrades to both cars at the same time. But if you can’t do that – and that has been exacerbated this year by, firstly, the lack of in-season testing and, secondly, the team’s huge efforts to rapidly improve MP4-24, then logic dictates that you give those parts to the team’s faster driver – which, in the majority of cases this year, has been Lewis.

However, with particular reference to the shorter wheelbase car we are running in Valencia, it is simply that Heikki is lighter than Lewis and is consequently able to run the ideal weight distribution around here. Lewis’s shorter-wheelbase car allows him to achieve exactly the same result – this is something that we discussed fully with Heikki ahead of this weekend’s race, and he is perfectly happy with the reasoning behind this decision.
Jonathan Neale

Muddying the waters further, running the short wheelbase car has not entirely been an advantage for Hamilton. When he spun and damaged the chassis during second practice on Friday, the shortage of suitable parts for the revised car meant he missed the rest of the session.

Has McLaren handed Hamilton an advantage by giving him the short wheelbase car? Let’s see how the race unfolds – and whether Kovalainen uses the shorter car next time out.

Read more: Whitmarsh wants Hamilton and Kovalainen to have equal equipment

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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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14 comments on “Hamilton using short wheelbase MP4/24”

  1. Kovalainen also said that he opted not to use the new aero parts (I think it was the new front wing). This front wing was supposed to improve balance, but Kovalainen said the balance of his car was fine already so he didn’t want another nose.

    Puts some light on this “they are not given equal material” claims. The cars might not be identical, but they are equal in performance.

  2. I wonder if the shorter wheel base suits Hamilton’s driving style (more aggressive) than Kova’s (..slow? ;)

    How much shorter is it anyway? Are we talking 20mm or 200mm?

  3. Here in Italy they are saying it is 22mm shorter, don’t know how accurate that is.They are also saying it is for better weight distrubution with the kers unit and more so for Spa and Monza where the real benefits will be seen.

  4. I think that 22mm and a slight weight difference between the two drivers are really…peanuts.

    1. no,its not peanuts.

      Even if it causes a minuscule 0.1% increase in performance, on a 100 second Valencia track, it transforms into an advantage of a tenth, which in formula one is significant.

      1. A tenth is significant, but if a driver is not capable of using up all those tenths then its of no benefit.

        1. So you mean Lewis will not translate or ……….. don’t get your argument!! anyway, good that ppl are ok with driver no.1 and driver no.2 in Mccas!!

  5. I think if Ferrari followed Macca’s example and made a short wheelbase car for Kimi he would light up every track

  6. The reports I have heard is that the shorter wheelbase will be of more benefit at Spa and Monza so I wonder if they will have enough parts ready for both drivers by then considering lack of parts hampered Hamiltons 2nd Practice, and that Spa is just next weekend.

    Interesting that Kovalainen chose not to use some of the new aero parts, it reminds me of a race last year (can’t remember where of the top of my head) where Massa was using the shark fin engine cover but Raikkonen wasn’t purely out of choice rather than availability of parts.

    1. I believe it was the same Valencia.

  7. Seems that finally McLaren respects a world champion and gives him the newest parts. I wonder what would have happened in the Alonso-Hamilton era…

  8. It’s 75mm. It has been designed to help cure the high speed instability the 24a has suffered all year. Another chasis is being prepared at Woking and will available for Heikki next weekend.
    I keep reading that Lewis has an aggressive driving style when really Lewis prefers cars that oversteer and Heikki prefers understeer. Heikki also likes to turn in twice (a feature of cars that understeer)something he has been working on in the simiulator to dial out of his driving.

  9. Sounds like someone’s trying to stir things up! No, McLaren must not be confused with a team with a biased driver policy, such as Renault. At Renault, Alonso gets preferential treatment in everything. He had a much better car than Piquet for many of the races, for far more races than Hamilton had a better car than Kovi. Indeed, Flavio actually made a habit of leaving the track when Alonso retired, even if Piquet were still racing! That shows you how unfair that situation is. McLaren, in contrast, are very fair. Lewis is just much better than Kovi (and everyone else). Here’s what Kovi had to say regarding the updates.

    Q: We’ve heard quite a bit about spare parts from McLaren over the last couple of days, in fact the last couple of races. Have you got everything that Lewis has got now?

    HK: In fact I would have everything if I wanted to take them, but because the parts arrived a bit late, the factory was just not able to push any more. Everybody has been stretched over the maximum in fact, to get all the pieces, so it was always a plan that Lewis would run them on Friday and I would get them perhaps for the Friday afternoon. But because everything was delayed and we had a very good balance yesterday, we decided not to run the new parts because you never know, you might lose confidence on Saturday morning which you really don’t want to do. So in fact it was our decision not to run them but I think I would have had them and the team would have given equal opportunity for both of us, so no problems on that side.

    1. Sums it up. Its not the first time Heikki has turned down new parts.
      When Ferrari produced the lighter car, Kimi got it first and he’s currently the number 2.
      Assuming Heikki is given the new parts, people will start screaming that he is being used to test the parts for Hamilton.
      Now is we assume that the new car was exactly 2/10th faster, Was Heikki 2/10th slower each lap considering they were carrying almost identical fuel load?

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