Test Drive Tuesday review: 2012 McLaren MP4-27
Another year in F1, and another truly innovative car for McLaren: following one of the most radical regulation change since 2009, the Woking-based team came up with two major innovative designs. As every team resigned to adopt the ugly “platypus” noses as an answer to the lowered maximum nosecone height, the McLaren MP4-27 sported a magnificent curved nose, and was by far the prettiest of the grid -- and in my opinion one of the prettiest of the V8-era cars. But the main change in the rules was the banning of the directly-blown diffuser, and this is where McLaren’s out-of-the-box thinking shined: they developed the “Coanda exhausts”, which used the air flow passing on top of the car to bend the exhaust gases toward the diffuser, thus regaining most of the lost downforce.
Now, I’ve said it before, but this is my favorite V8-era F1 in Simraceway. So much so that I bought it about a month ago, and I’ve already covered more than 1,000kms with it. I’ll now try to explain why.
First of all, and as always with F1 cars, you have to consider the aero. It’s here at its highest level since the 2010 car, and that means two important things:
- We have a new overall leaderboard leader! And by quite a margin, too. Not in the specific leaderboard at COTA though, but I’ll explain later why.
- This car is an absolute dream to drive through fast corners.
And I mean that last part. Here is the complete thought-process that will happen in your mind when you arrive at a fast corner, let’s say turn 5 at Watkins Glen: “ok, this should be reasonably fast, I’ll try to brake a little, and the apex should be about…” But at this point you’re already out of the corner. You’ll find yourself glued at the apex in less time that it takes you to figure out where exactly the apex is. This is because of the awesome powers of downforce, but also because this car has one of the best front-end that I’ve ever encountered in SRW. It extremely intuitive, very precise, and has an enormous amount of grip. There’s no understeer to see here (except if you really want it to; or if you drive like an animal), the front tires are exactly where they would be in your wildest racing dreams. That’s why, at a track like the Glen, which puts a very high demand on the front end of the car, the MP4-27 is the fastest thing out there. And I don’t think it’ll get overtaken pretty soon.
A nice side-effect of the scalpel-like front-end is that it’s amazingly good fun to race. It’s easier to overtake than with the previous iterations, because the car will do what you ask it to, and all the time. Well actually not all the time. Not with cold tires and brakes. In fact, this car is pretty tricky at the start of the race, which can make T1 a bit eventful. But past that greatly feared point, it’s one of the best racing experiences you can have.
Of course it’s not perfect: with the default set-up, the braking can be a bit treacherous on some tracks. Like COTA, for example, which I think is why it’s not the fastest car there. The MP4-25 is much more confidence inspiring in the big braking zones, which are somehow decisive on this track. And, as I said before, cold tires kill people with this car. But one could argue that it makes racing more realistic and challenging, and that’s got to be a good thing.
In short: if you want any modern F1, buy this one (although the 2010 MP4-25 does make a case for itself). If you want the best V8 F1, buy this one. And, to date, if you want the fastest car of Simraceway, buy this one! I don’t think you’ll ever tire of it.
Here is the link to the Test Drive Tuesday Leaderboards: https://goo.gl/ATr6mF