The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team unveiled their latest challenger, the MP4-27, during a press event in Woking today (February 1st).
The team hopes the Mercedes-powered car will deliver that elusive championship success after missing out on both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles for the past two years.
Even though McLaren scored six victories last season in the hands of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the team were severely beaten by the dominant Red Bull, especially up against the youngest back-to-back champion Sebastian Vettel.
Button, who finished in the runner-up position in last year’s championship, believes that the MP4-27 will deliver good results for the team.
“It’s very exciting day for us all,” said Button. “It’s the moment when we see how hard we’ve all been working.
“These guys have been flat out since we finished racing in 2011 on improving the car as much as they could in the simulator and I’m looking forward to getting out in it at Jerez.
“I am sure everyone is apprehensive when you start testing and I cannot wait to jump in the car.”
After admiring the MP4-27 for the first time, Hamilton said: “I think it is fantastic. It’s great to be here after a great winter.
“Seeing hard work going into building this car is inspiring. It is the most refined-looking car we have had for some time so we are looking forward to getting back in it.”
Ahead of his sixth season with the team, Hamilton added: “It feels very much like only yesterday when I went up to (former team boss) Ron (Dennis) and said I wanted to race for his team.
“But we’ve been competing at the front all those years. We’ve strength in depth, a great foundation from which we work. This is a team that never gives up.”
Caterham were the first team to launch last week (January 25th), with their car sporting a ‘duck-billed platypus’ shaped nose, the result of the meeting between front suspension and chassis.
That has been based on the new FIA regulations that decree a higher nose, with many suspecting that would be the way forward, leading to it being described as ‘ugly’.
However, the new McLaren remained very much true to past cars, with a smooth transition across the chassis from cockpit to the front wing.
Button said: “This is a beautiful car, which for me is important. Many you see will not be.”
Hamilton concurred, adding: “We’re coming in massively motivated, very fresh, and when you have a good-looking car, generally it’s a good car, so hopefully that is the case.”
Hamilton and Button represent a third of the six world champions that will be on the grid this season for the first time in the sport’s history.
The British champions are joined by Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and the returning Kimi Raikkonen, who this season will be driving for Lotus.
Hamilton added: “We love to have competition. It’s great to have so many great drivers. Hopefully there won’t be too many more added to it.
“It’s great for fans, great for the sport.”
So the drivers and team are motivated. Can the MP4-27 deliver that championship success following Red Bull domination? I’ll await with keen enthusiasm during the official testing at Jerez next week.