McLaren unveils their new 2021 race car

McLaren Racing becomes the first Formula 1 team to unveil their 2021 race car for this season, with the MCL35M.

The overall look is similar to last season’s chassis, but new for 2021 will be the Mercedes power unit. In addition, Daniel Ricciardo has joined the team following the news that Carlos Sainz, Jr is now racing for Ferrari.

The new MCL35M car retains largely the same livery as last year as McLaren sticks with its usual papaya orange and blue design, though some subtle changes such as shifting the rainbow scheme previously on the halo to the rear of the car.

A new partnership with Mercedes 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.

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 updated regulations.

The team has spent its two permitted development tokens on the rear of the car, but remains confident of fighting for third place in the constructors’ championship once again.

“All of us at McLaren are ready and determined for another season of intensely competitive Formula 1 racing,” said team principal Andreas Seidl.

“The entire team has worked hard over the short winter, together with our colleagues from Mercedes-AMG, to produce the MCL35M and provide a strong car for our drivers to race this year.

“This has been no small challenge, and I want to thank every member of our team, whether at the MTC or working remotely, for the massive effort they’ve put in. Lando and Daniel will, I know, do their very best to represent the team out on track.”

McLaren enjoyed its best season since 2012 last year as Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz both scored podiums, leading the team to third in the teams’ standings behind 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.

“It’s great to have finally joined the team after what feels like an age since we confirmed it last May, said Ricciardo.

“I’m thrilled to be a McLaren driver and super-keen to get started. McLaren has been on an awesome journey over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to helping the team maintain this positive momentum.

“I’ve been spending the last few weeks here in the UK getting fully integrated into the team so that we’re as prepared as possible for the start of the season.

“I’m feeling excited and motivated to give it my absolute all. I think my determination to perform has only grown as I’ve gained more experience and I’m looking forward to getting this next chapter in my career started.”

2021 heralds 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 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.


5 thoughts to “McLaren unveils their new 2021 race car”

  1. Mercedes branding will be absent from McLaren’s Formula 1 car, driver overalls and team uniforms this year, despite the team’s switch to the German car manufacturer’s engine.

    As the team revealed its new MCL35M at its Woking factory on Monday night, one notable absence from its newly tweaked livery was the famous three-pointed Mercedes star.

    The badge also does not feature on the overalls of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris nor on the team wear of key personnel.

    While it seems slightly unusual for teams not to run the logo of their engine supplier, McLaren has explained that the absence is down to the outfit having a pure customer relationship with Mercedes – that does not extend as far as a marketing deal.

    It is a similar policy at Racing Point, which has not featured branding of the Mercedes badge despite it being one of its customers.

    At Williams, the logos do not appear on the car but do feature on the overalls of its drivers George Russell, who is a member of the Mercedes young driver programme, and Nicholas Latifi.

    It is understood that Mercedes’ customer engine deals with teams do not stipulate the need for them to feature the company’s branding on the cars, and each F1 manufacturer has its own policy in this regard.

    Last year’s McLaren did feature the Renault name on the engine cover and the drivers’ overalls.

    McLaren is clear that its switch to Mercedes engines this season is not about promoting the German car manufacturer but is instead purely about giving it the best chance to win races.

    Team principal Andreas Seidl said on Monday: “We are definitely convinced that we are in a position, once we are there as a team, that the Mercedes power unit can help us to win races again in the future. Definitely.

    “But, I think it’s important to make sure we focus on ourselves. We still have a long way to go on our side and on the team side, but we are happy with the progress we could make the last two years.

    “At the same time, you know, there’s still a lot of things we need to get in place first on the infrastructure side and on the team side, before we actually battle for race wins again.”


  2. McLaren’s new arrival Daniel Ricciardo is expecting to have fun with team mate Lando Norris off track but “fierce” competition on it as the duo look to drive the iconic British team forward and build on last year’s third place in the constructors’ championship.

    Ricciardo joins McLaren from Renault for his 11th F1 campaign, with seven race victories and 31 podiums under his belt, and partners Norris, 10 years his junior. Norris enjoyed something of a breakthrough campaign last year, scoring his first F1 podium in Austria and demonstrating impressive consistency in what was only his second season of Grand Prix racing.

    The pair have form for entertaining both on and off track, and Ricciardo sees no reason why that won’t continue with their new partnership. “I think we both have a similar approach to the game,” said Ricciardo on the day McLaren launched their 2021 challenger, the MCL35M, which you can see in the gallery below.

    “We both love what we do, we enjoy our job and we’re not afraid to show that. We have the same approach but also we are from a bit of a different generation. I think I’m 10 years on Lando, so yeah I think it creates quite a good combination.

    “Off-track for sure we’ll always be seen to be having a good time, but I do believe the competition on-track will be good, will be fierce, and more importantly I think driving the team forward. That’s something we want to state among ourselves – do the best among the team, then go for it when the lights go out.”

    Ricciardo joins McLaren on the back of two campaigns with Renault, having previously raced for Red Bull, Toro Rosso and HRT – however that doesn’t mean he’s not still willing to learn from Norris.

    “I’m certainly the more experienced in F1, this being my 11th season, but Lando is the more experienced at McLaren,” said Ricciardo. “So for sure there’s some things I can learn from him, particularly in the team itself, and the integration into the McLaren family.

    “Every time you have a new team mate it’s a real opportunity to learn something new, whether it’s work ethic, driving technique, or both. I’m always pretty openminded.

    “I know every driver has confidence in themselves and their ability, I am very confident as an individual but I’m also openminded, and if there is something I can take from Lando and use it to better myself then obviously I’m looking to learn as much as I can.”


  3. New McLaren car includes “fresh ideas” despite rules limits on aero. has the full story.

    McLaren says its new MCL35M has still managed to incorporate some “fresh ideas”, despite the homologation limits of Formula 1’s 2021 rules.

    The Woking-based team revealed its new Mercedes-powered challenger with a digital launch at its factory on Monday night.

    And while the car features some carry over aspects of last year’s challenger, it has undergone some extensive revisions both to fit its new Mercedes engine and also to comply with new aero rules.

    Although the key focus for the team over the winter was on installing the Mercedes power unit, technical director James Key is clear that his design team have worked hard to improve the car’s aerodynamics too as it bids to exploit the nose concept is introduced over the second half of last year.

    “There has been an aero push,” explained Key. “Any new set of regs naturally open up fresh opportunities in other areas anyway, so the car does look a bit different.

    “There will be some fresh ideas on there. The front of the car, from a regulation point of view, hasn’t changed at all but there are developments that we’re still looking at in those areas as well. And that will continue on into the season.

    “I think it would be naive to think that you could kind of just adapt a bit to the reg changes and move on. Everyone’s going to be pushing for sure, so we wanted to make sure we were doing the same.”

    Key said that the work McLaren had to do to fit the Mercedes engine was quite extensive, especially as the layout of the power unit’s split turbine and compressor is different to how former supplier Renault laid out its components.

    “Every engine installation is really quite different,” explained Key. “There is no one solution on how these power units are laid out, or the sizing of various key components either that affect the car’s architecture.

    “So what we needed to try and do is respect the homologation process by not changing things that didn’t really need to change in line with installing the engine.

    “But clearly, making the changes we needed to do to homologated parts, that allowed us to change the chassis, which of course has to change with a new engine and the energy store aspects of the gearbox for packaging purposes.

    “It added an extra dimension, which probably led to a slightly suboptimal approach compared to what you would do if you’re completely free. But I don’t think it was that much of a compromise.”

    Despite the scale of the work, though, Key said he was impressed by how well thought-out the Mercedes layout is.

    “I think the Mercedes installation is certainly extremely tidy, you can see how much attention to detail has gone into it,” he said.

    “So it’s very straightforward to package in that respect. And that has given us a few sort of plus points. Equally there’s further demand in other areas which we’ve had to adjust to in the other way.”

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