McLaren MCL35 has been unveiled on Thursday at its headquarters in Woking (United Kingdom). Attending the event were Zak Brown, the team’s CEO, Andreas Seidl, team principal, as well as drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
A notable absence, however, was that of James Key, McLaren’s technical director and one of the main hands behind the first car carrying his prestigious signature.
“Today is a great day for all of us. I have followed the development of the MCL35 closely during the winter and I am very aware of the effort and passion that we all have put behind it. It seems a lot slimmer and the matt paint looks really good. I like it a lot” – said Carlos during the event -.
Despite this being a kind of transition year ahead of the regulatory upheaval expected in 2021, the new car has undergone important changes in relation to its predecessor, the MCL34. Those changes affect both the technical and aesthetic aspects of the car.
The car has kept its iconic orange colour but this has been given a matt finish and has been brought all the way up to the halo. Orange is again the most prominent colour in the livery and it is combined with the electric blue of the front and back wings and of the bottom centre panels.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 13, 2020
Most of the technological innovations have taken place at the back of the car which has been completely redesigned into a slimmer version. Following the same lines, the lower-middle side of the vehicle features some markedly rectangular and narrow sidepods.
Also, on either side of the car, the bargeboards seem a lot more elaborate as these have been evolved to attempt and increase downforce. The floor of the car is no longer rectangular but a rather more arrow-like shape. Similarly, the nose of the car, home to the side winglets, is notoriously more minimalist in its design.
This new package of modifications is aimed at generating a greater aerodynamic load. Similarly, an attempt has been made to make the car more versatile so that its success is not so dependent on the type of layout in which it is competing, as it was in 2019.
To make it all possible McLaren engineers have also concentrated a good chunk of their efforts into making every component of the Papaya Missile more resilient and durable.
A key part of this complex improvement process is, of course, the engine. This is Renault’s last year as engine providers to the British team and everyone is hoping that the French manufacturer has managed to increase the reliability and potency of their power units.
McLaren is, in sum, hoping to take another step forward on the long road towards regaining the status and prominence that they once enjoyed in Formula 1. The once top Scuderia hasn’t won a driver’s title since 2007 and a constructors one since 1998.
Although they are in no shape to fight for any title yet, they want to set a solid base to build upon and from where to grow and recover the lost prestige and competitive level.
Now it is the time to replicate on the track the results obtained in the wind tunnel. During the pre-season tests, which are due to take place from the 19th to the 21st and from the 26th to the 28th of February at the Circuit of Barcelona, the Papaya will demonstrate what is really made off.
Then, it should offer some clues as to what to expect this championship which is commencing on the 15th of March in Australia. If the expectations and data from the team’s engineers are confirmed, the Orange Missile could cut the distance with the leading trio (Mercedes Ferrari and Red Bull) by about half a second.
Even if that is the case, however, it is still not in their plans to actually compete with any of the three leaders or to even set foot in the podium this season.