Test Drive Tuesday review: 2010 McLaren MP4-25
The McLaren MP4-25 was the first McLaren to be driven by the championship-winning pair formed by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and was also the last to sport Bridgestone tires, the manufacturer leaving its place to Pirelli at the end of the season. One of the major feature of this F1 is the very innovative F-Duct, use to stall the rear-wing on the straights, gaining precious top-speed without having to reduce downforce in the corners. This was later banned, but not after all of its main competitors copied it…
Now if you’re not an F1 fan, despite all the things I just said, to you this car “just another McLaren F1 car”. Because yes, if you haven’t driven some different F1s really hard around a track on Simraceway, you’re not going to notice much difference. Which all kinda justifies my job, right?
If you’re looking into entering the F1 experience, but are not a die-hard F1 fan, I think this is exactly the one you need. It’s probably the easiest to drive fast without much practice or spending 3 hours on the internet finding out what you should do with this packers thing to gain 0.1 of a second around CoTA, and here’s why.
As you probably know, aerodynamics play a major role in modern F1 racing, and such subtleties as a lowered nose can dramatically change the behavior of the car. Well 2010 was the year in which blown diffusers made a comeback in F1. Blown diffusers, in short, use exhaust gases to gain performance on the rear diffuser, which represents around 60% of the overall aero performance of the car. This system, coupled with the aforementioned F-duct, means that the rear of the car is now completely locked. You won’t get it to oversteer mid-corner or on heavy-braking, even if of course punching the throttle in 1st or 2nd isn’t advisable. There is so much downforce back there that the default braking balance is predominantly rearward, and that fact isn’t really noticeable until you look it up in the settings.
Second factor: the engine is creamy-smooth. Not much is happening below 15,000rpm (in F1 terms, because this is still a Millenium Falcon rivaling car in the straights), and even after that there isn’t much torque. All is very progressive and transparent. You won’t be surprised exiting and hairpin.
In fact, all the car is extremely smooth to drive, and more so if you compare it to last year’s MP4-29. Plus the massive downforce means that you’ll take an amazing amount of corners flat-out. It really beggars belief at high-speed tracks like Silverstone, CoTA or Watkins Glen.
Lastly, the overall mechanical and aerodynamical balance is slightly angled toward oversteer. Again, it’s something you’ll barely notice if you haven’t driven any other modern F1 car, but for example the MP4-27 is a more of an oversteery car, especially under braking.
These four things make the MP4-25 a really accessible F1 car. If you’re new to this world of mad cornering Gs and punch-in-the-face braking performance, and don’t want to spend days looking for a better set-up to be competitive, in other words if you just want easy (but amazing) speed and fun, this is the car for you. Yes there are more involving F1 cars, like the MP4-27 or the MP4-29 if you’re feeling particularly brave, and even faster ones (though not by far I suspect). But this is I think the most approachable.
Here is the link to the Test Drive Tuesday Leaderboards: https://goo.gl/ATr6mF