McLaren has launched its 2012 car - the MP4-27 - at the McLaren Technology Centre.

13204 - McLaren launches the MP4-27

The car is an evolution of the MP4-26 which took six victories in 2011, with the team hoping to close the gap to Red Bull this year. The car features a different front end solution to the Caterham that was launched last week, with a gradual transition between the lower nose and chassis. The sculpted sidepods that were prominent on the MP4-26 have also been redesigned, while the car features a neater rear end than the 2011 car.

Lewis Hamilton admitted that the rear end was designed to try and compensate from the loss of downforce due to the banning the exhaust-blown diffuser.

"It's much trickier to drive as it is right now," Hamilton said. "But as we get closer to the season I'm sure we'll find where that downforce can come from."

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said that the current relative performance of the car is unknown, but that the key would be to have a more smooth pre-season than in 2011.

"We won't really know until qualifying in Australia," Whitmarsh said. "Through the practice and testing programmes we have ahead of us we'll make advances on a whole range of areas. We had, by anyone's standards, let alone McLaren standards, an abysmal testing period last year, where we didn't have reliability or pace. It was a fantastic effort by the team and its engineers for us to arrive in Australia in a reasonably competitive position, which I think surprised a lot of people. But it was a stressful process and I'd be much happier to not be fighting those sort of issues and we've put a lot of work into this car so that we won't be in that position again."

The new car will be driven for the first time by Oliver Turvey during a straigh-line test ahead of its track debut on Tuesday at the first pre-season test in Jerez, with Jenson Button at the wheel for the first two days before handing over to Lewis Hamilton.