Test Drive Tuesday review: 2013 McLaren MP4-28
Despite having the fastest car on the grid in 2012, McLaren decided to completely rework their car for the 2013 season, stating that the MP4-27 had reached “the end of a development cycle”. A new suspension philosophy was adopted, front and rear, while the bodywork was transformed to follow the “high nose” trend, in order to feed the rear diffuser with more air.
Sadly, the rather catastrophic season (the worst in 33 years for McLaren) proved McLaren might have been a bit too innovative this time. The team even considered coming back to the 2012 car at some point.
That doesn’t mean it’s any less fun to drive though. In short, you can consider this car as a more behaved MP4-27, a car I did praise quite a lot last week.
If you read last week’s review, you’ll remember that I said that the MP4-27 was a bit of a handful on cold tires, and could prove rather hairy under heavy braking. Well, consider the ’28 free of these two points. It’s a lot more stable at the braking points, something you especially feel at COTA, and the car isn’t really that snappy with cold tires and brakes anymore.
The braking performance and usability is phenomenal. You can brake later than the laws of physics seem to allow, and keep your foot planted until you reach 3rd gear, at which point you’ll have to lift a bit to avoid natural lift-off oversteer. Decelerating this quickly, this brutally, really seems unreal and I have to say going through the gears at this rate is a massively enjoyable experience.
You’ll also remember that I said that the MP4-27 is my favorite V8-era F1 in Simraceway. So why this one, and not the MP4-28, which is more civilized and altogether easier to drive? Well, precisely because it’s more civilized.
The MP4-27 is, in my eyes, a more challenging, more involving car. The snappy cold tires mean that you really have to be focused on what you’re doing at the start of a race, and the more mobile rear-end means that you can’t take any liberties with it. The MP4-27 is a car that won’t give you any excuse. You spun? You did something wrong. That car is somewhat more transparent while being more characterful.
I’m not saying the MP4-28 is a bad car. It isn’t. The front-end is almost as godly as the MP4-27’s, and, as I said before, the braking is mind-shattering. There is also a touch more traction when exiting slow corners. But you just have that sensation that in really fast changes of direction (like in sector 1 of COTA), the nose is a tiny little bit reluctant to change course. It is very, very subtle, and the overall lateral grip probably matches the MP4-27’s. But it’s still here, and as a result, if I was to chose only one V8 F1 it’d still be the 2012 car. Let me put it this way: the 2013 MP4-28 is probably 2nd on my list of V8 F1s, with the extra intuitive MP4-25 a close third. It’s also worth remembering that the ‘28 is a Progression Ladder car, and so is cheaper than the ’27 and more likely to be featured in events
Having all that in mind, I would totally understand if you were to buy this one.
Here is the link to the Test Drive Tuesday Leaderboards: https://goo.gl/ATr6mF