Formula 1's first winter test is nearly a week out, and that means it's F1 car launch season. The latest team to reveal its challenger for 2020 is the Woking-based McLaren, which intends to use its new MCL35 as a ladder to climb back toward the front of the grid.
McLaren had a rough run of the Twenteens, falling from Grand Prix-winning form in 2012 to recording two of its three worst championship finishes since 1980. Splitting with much-maligned engine supplier Honda failed to improve McLaren's form for 2018, and after losing star driver Fernando Alonso, the prognosis for 2019 looked grim. But that's what made the team's terrific rebound as sweet as its paint color's namesake. It achieved a comfortable fourth in the Constructors' Championship and attained its first podium in more than five years at last year's unforgettable Brazilian Grand Prix.
For this season, the manufacturer's racer wears a predominantly Papaya Orange livery with splashes of brilliant blue, similar to last season's entry. However, the patterned overlay is gone with a sleeker incorporation of the near-cobalt hue in its place. Most of the team's major sponsors are retained from 2019 as well, including Arrow Technologies and the somewhat infamous British American Tobacco.
McLaren hopes the MCL35 will continue to propel the team on its upward trajectory and close the gap to frontrunners Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes-AMG. While showing up the newly Honda-powered Red Bulls and winning races is McLaren's stretch goal, team principal Andreas Seidl told Auto Motor und Sport that the iconic outfit doesn't expect to challenge for wins until 2023. Likewise, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown cautioned Autosport not to expect the same "huge step" forward in 2020 that the team took in 2019.
The MCL35 will be campaigned by the same duo that drove the MCL34—former Red Bull prospect Carlos Sainz and current up-and-comer Lando Norris. Both drivers demonstrated more maturity than anyone could have hoped for in 2019, and did so with flairs of personality that surely delighted sponsors, a big deal at the top level of motorsport. Let's see if they step up their game as much as the team that backs them does in 2020.
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