McLaren has become the first Formula 1 team to unveil its new car ahead of the 2021 season, presenting the MCL35M to the world on Monday evening.
Following a busy winter that has seen the team switch to Mercedes power units and sign Daniel Ricciardo from Renault, McLaren unveiled the MCL35M at its Woking base ahead of its planned on-track debut this week.
Despite the freeze in the technical regulations between 2020 and 2021, McLaren has been forced to make a sizeable number of changes to its new car in order to accommodate the new Mercedes power unit, as well as accounting for the downforce cuts enforced by the update regulations.
The team has spent its two permitted development tokens on the rear of the car to incorporate the new power unit, but remains confident of fighting for third place in the constructors’ championship once again.
McLaren enjoyed its best season since 2012 last year as Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr both scored podiums en route to leading the team to third, trailing only Mercedes and Red Bull.
Following Sainz’s move to Ferrari, seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo has arrived on a three-year deal from Renault, bringing 10 seasons’ worth of experience to McLaren.
The new MCL35M car retains largely the same livery as last year as McLaren retains its papaya orange and blue design, albeit with some subtle changes such as shifting the rainbow design previously on the halo to the rear of the car and the blue stripe on the nose.
Mercedes’ involvement in the new partnership with McLaren is reflected in the car name, adding the ‘M’ designation to last year’s MCL35, but there is no Mercedes branding on the car due to the nature of their customer agreement.
It marks a reunion of McLaren and Mercedes, who were previously works partners between 1995 and 2009 before the formation of Mercedes’ own team for the 2010 season. McLaren continued as a Mercedes customer until the end of 2014, when it switched to Honda.
McLaren-Mercedes won three drivers’ championships and one constructors’ title in their 20-season spell together, as well as recording the most recent McLaren victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
The new McLaren MCL35M will get its first on-track outing at Silverstone on Tuesday when the team holds a filming day, acting as a shakedown for the new car.
It will then enjoy its first extended run-out at the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain next month, which runs from 12-14 March.
The opening round of the 2021 season then takes place on 28 March in Bahrain.