It has been confirmed that McLaren will use their last filming / promotion day of the 2014 season to perform a shake down of the Honda Powered version of the current MP4-29 race car at Silverstone ahead of it’s testing debut after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi next week.
Under the testing restrictions, F1 teams are permitted to have 2 promotional days each year where they can run their current car for a maximum of 100KM – although they are not allowed to use standard race tyres. The stated reason for the days is to create promotional material as part of the team marketing activities for sponsors, however many teams do use the time for unnofficial shake down and parts testing.
The promotional day for the Honda powered vehicle will allow for around 20 laps of the Sliverstone circuit enabling the team to examine how the new power unit interfaces with the existing car. Given that the primary focus will be to ensure that the engine simply works, it is highly unlikely that the car will look significantly different from the current race version or be used to test any aerodynamic changes.
The restrictions on the current F1 Power Units include the way that the unit is integrated into the monocoque, and while it’s not as simple as swapping one for the other, most of the car used will be based on the current season MP4-29.
The filming day follows on from Eric Boullier scotching rumours that the Abu Dhabi race (likely to be Jenson Button‘s swansong in F1) will feature a totally redeveloped McLaren – although the arrival of Peter Podromou should lead to some fairly significant upgrades to the vehicle that may result in Button getting a better send off than he might have expected.
The first photos of the test have been released and show a car that has a few subtle differences from their current racer. The team have been reasonably positive in their discussions about the test. Boullier tweeted that it had been positive.
Although the mileage was very limited, it appears that the car was reliable and there were no failures. We’re likely to see the MP4-29H again at the Abu Dhabi test, although by then it is likely to also be running some of the new Aero Updates that new Chief Engineer Peter Podromou has brought to the design in the last few weeks, and performance could be more representative of 2015 than we’ve seen so far in the 2014 season.