McLaren have unveiled their 2017 car, the MCL32, at their factory in Woking as the team plot a return to the front of the grid.
The McLaren team had hinted for a while that there were going to be big changes for this year as the team look to recover from one of the worst slumps in their history. And the first of those changes could be seen at the launch of the MCL32, with the car now sporting an iconic orange and black livery. McLaren haven’t started a season in founder Bruce McLaren’s favourite colour since 1971. The car looks to be aggressive on aero, featuring many of the mini wings around the sidepods the other teams like Mercedes and Ferrari are running, as well as a return to the shark fin must teams are sporting this year.
“It’s the engineering detail on the MCL32 that really impresses me,” team boss Eric Boullier said. “The chassis is incredibly well realised, the power unit has been significantly developed and, in Fernando and Stoffel, we have a hugely exciting driver pairing that’s already blending really well. There’s a feeling around the factory that we’re about to turn the corner.”
While 2016 will not be remembered with fondness by many McLaren fans, the team did show signs of progress in their second season of a renewed partnership with engine suppliers Honda. The teams best result last season was a 5th place finish and they managed to finish in 6th place in the Constructors Championship behind fellow British team Williams. The teams last victory was a long time ago, back in 2012 with Jenson Button in Brazil, and the team are desperate to get back to their winning ways. Though it would appear they still have a lot of work to do.
Much like Mercedes, it has been an off-season of change for McLaren, with the team still coming to terms with Ron Dennis’ departure at the end of 2016. As well as 2009 world Champion, and McLaren veteran Jenson Button going on sabbatical for this season. McLaren have managed to keep double world champion Fernando Alonso for 2017, however the Spaniard is out of contract at the end of the season and has said he will decide in September whether to sign a new deal.
Alonso will be joined by the highly rated Belgian rookie, and former GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne. Vandoorne had the opportunity to race for McLaren in Bahrain last year, following Alonso’s high speed crash in Australia. The Belgian went on to score McLaren’s first point of the season with a tenth place finish. Button meanwhile has taken on a test driver role for the team for this season.
Feature Image Credit: McLaren Honda F1 Team Press Release.