McLaren has taken the wraps off the MCL32 Honda, its new chassis in the first year of the post-Ron Dennis era, with Zak Brown now at the helm of the team and after an offseason of excitement and teasing about the livery change.
The switch to an MCL32 chassis designation brings to an end the run of MP4-number chassis as part of the team’s effective relaunch, although the notation of “32” after MCL would in some respects keep that MP4-31 number streak continuing.
But the biggest change beyond the name is the livery color, which switches to the traditional McLaren orange along with black for 2017, and brings to an end the first two years of black, red and silver that adorned the McLarens when Honda came back.
McLaren last ran orange in testing 20 years ago in an interim livery before the unveil of the striking silver to coincide with West cigarettes in 1997. But in race competition, it’s been since the 1960s and early ’70s since the team founded by Bruce McLaren has had that distinctive orange flavor on a race car.
If the team can find an uptick in performance with the chassis and power unit enhancements to match, then two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso and one of Formula 1’s most exciting rookie prospects in years, Stoffel Vandoorne, could well have a year to remember here, befitting of the entire McLaren legacy.
“It’s awesome. It’s such a special place to be,” Brown said at the launch.
“It definitely wasn’t me!” he added of the livery design. “It was a collective group. Ultimately it was in response to input from the fans.
“If you’re not a McLaren fan, please leave! We’re highly frustrated were not winning races. It takes time putting the package together. But last year was forward progress and that’s what we need to see this year. Our driver lineup has two of the best guys.”
Naturally, the two drivers followed.
“It’s fantastic,” Alonso said. “The first time we saw it today. yesterday the last parts were coming together. We’ve got some orange and obviously with the new regulations it seems spectacular.
“I think it becomes sexy when they are fast! But it’s one of the most beautiful cars I will drive. It looks sexy from the outside.
“There are some hopes it will improve the show and will make things a little bit bigger. Next week we will have some answers in Barcelona. But it’s a good change for Formula 1 to have faster, good looking cars.”
Vandoorne added, “It’s a very exciting time for me to be fully involved as a full-time race driver. I’ve been to many Grands Prix but finally in full-time, set to step in is great. For McLaren, the focus is to get back to winning.”