With the introduction of KERS devices in 2009 set to make weight-savings ever more sought after, McLaren may have just found an edge over their rivals by finishing their new car in a sophisticated, state-of-the art and crucially lighter chrome film.
The unveiling of McLaren’s new MP4-24 in Woking last week marked the start of a new partnership with Dutch car refinishing company AkzoNobel, which has developed a high-performance Sikkens paint system to be used by Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton as the team prepares to defend its 2008 World Driver s title.
Besides being tailor-made to meet the unique technical demands of grand prix racing, the innovative coatings are also believed to constitute a lighter chrome finish, thereby delivering improvements in lap time and performance as weight ballast becomes ever more critical in 2009.
“We are delighted to welcome a renowned company such as AkzoNobel into our world-class partner portfolio,” said Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of McLaren Group. “We know that Formula 1 as a sport has a high visual impact and attracts million of viewers around the globe. Since 2006, the unique chrome finish has become our distinctive racing livery, providing us with 14 grand prix victories. We look forward to a long and successful partnership with them.”
Added AkzoNobel CEO Hans Wijers: “Our coatings expertise is geared towards providing our partners with custom-made technical or performance solutions. This business partnership between two world-class performers is a perfect example of our commitment to continued innovation and I m convinced that together we will prove to be a winning team.”
Stringent technical requirements needed to be met before the partnership could be approved, but AkzoNobel shone through. A winning combination of VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) compliant systems and specialty products helps to optimise the performance, while at the same time producing the striking, all-important chrome finish of the MP4-24.
As well as producing a highly distinctive high chrome finish, the new Sikkens system has also halved the time required to cure the new bodywork parts, vitally speeding up the paint application process.
“Pushing technological boundaries is a key part of our product development and we re delighted to have provided Vodafone McLaren Mercedes with a superior system which matches their need for performance, speed and precision” commented Jim Rees, General Manager of AkzoNobel Car Refinishes.
Martin Whitmarsh, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes CEO Formula 1 said: “Working with AkzoNobel we have developed the technical ability to apply specialist coatings to composite materials and various substrates, tackling lighter and more environmentally friendly products. We have already achieved some significant results in this field by reducing the average curing time of bodywork parts to more than a half and lowering the paintshop s carbon footprint by up to 80 per cent. We will continue working with AkzoNobel Car Refinishes on further innovations as we investigate coating possibilities for both the cars we use now and the ones we plan to use in the future.”
The youngest ever champion in Formula 1 history, Lewis Hamilton will begin the defence of his title in the new Sikkens-coated Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 in Australia on March 29.