Holy papaya, that’s quite a color change.
McLaren has revealed its car for the upcoming Formula 1 season, and while its MCL32 tag moves away from the long-standing tradition of MP4-prefixed names (dating back to 1981), the orange-and-black color scheme is a throwback to the team’s ’60s livery. The paint job blends Tarocco Orange, “a custom McLaren color with a pearl sparkle,” with accents of “contrasting satin black and gloss white.”
These striking changes reflect the internal restructuring that the team has undergone following the departure of long-time boss Ron Dennis. Current leading figures include executive director Zak Brown, chief operating officer Jonathan Neale, and racing director Eric Boullier.
Fernando Alonso, who will be racing alongside former reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, describes the MCL32 as “really promising.” He adds: “We still think the start of the season will be a challenge—we can’t ignore the fact that we’re still coming from a significant step behind the current frontrunners—but I’d like to think we can target the second half of the year as a time when we’ll really be able to start making useful performance steps. The aim is to look respectable this year—and I’d like to think we can achieve that.”
Engine supplier Honda will be under close scrutiny, given that its power units have been considered the weak link of the Woking-made cars in the past couple of years. But Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s project head and executive chief engineer for the F1 project, assures that his team has taken a step forward with its RA617H power unit for 2017.
“The main areas of change that we focused on has been to decrease the weight and lower the center of gravity, so as to improve the balance of the car, while generating more output from the internal-combustion engine,” Hasegawa says. “Also, owing to the new 2017 regulations fundamentally affecting the design of our new car, Honda has made a lot of changes to accommodate the updated chassis. The team has therefore continued their hard work throughout the winter to find an ideal balance.”
“This year’s rules reset is a valuable opportunity for us—it will allow us to make progress with what we feel is a well-ordered and clearly defined chassis-engine package, and hopefully to narrow the delta between us and the front-running teams,” Boullier notes. “There’s a feeling around the factory that we’re about to turn the corner. Our relationship with Honda has blossomed—there’s a real sense of comradeship to what we do now—and I think we’re all very excited about what we can achieve together this year.”