McLaren bid to continue their F1 renaissance with new MCL35, which features noticebale differences to 2019 car; But Andreas Seidl warns winning return still unlikely before 2023
Thursday 13 February 2020 20:45, UK
McLaren have revealed a striking and sleek MCL35 for the 2020 season - featuring a matte finish for the first time - as they bid to continue their F1 revival.
The famous Woking team, who with 20 championships are Formula 1's second most successful outfit, will hope to kick on this year following their best finish of the hybrid era in 2019 of fourth.
Drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were on hand to reveal the car at the team's glistening MTC headquarters with McLaren's now re-established papaya and blue livery given a weight-saving matte, rather than glossy, finish like Red Bull and Ferrari.
"I like it a lot," said Sainz, who returned McLaren to the podium in Brazil last year.
"The new matte finish and all the work that has been put into this car, it looks great. It looks tighter, it looks slimmer, it looks just better."
British youngster Norris, entering his second season of F1 after an impressive rookie campaign, added: "It's a lot more of my car and we have had the input into making this. So it feels more like my baby and I can't wait to go and drive it."
Featuring noticeable differences at the front compared to the MCL34, chief executive Zak Brown said: "We're just getting started with our trajectory back to the front."
After three plagued seasons with Honda engines, McLaren took a giant step forward in their second campaign powered by Renault in 2019 as they finished fourth in the standings, some way behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull but comfortably ahead of their midfield rivals.
It was a year of improvement, and an impressive start to a new era as Sainz and Norris hit the ground running in their first year at McLaren - the former securing the team's first podium since 2014 and the latter enjoying a dazzling rookie season as a teenager.
There were also more changes behind the scenes, and the MCL35 is the first car designed under the leadership of highly-rated technical director James Key.
The aim for McLaren with the new car will be to maintain their position at the head of the midfield and make gains on the 'big three' ahead before the major rule changes coming in 2021.
They are switching to Mercedes engines for that season, meaning 2020 will be their final year with Renault - who are likely to be their main rivals on the track.
"It's important for us to not get carried away with the step we could make last year," team boss Andreas Seidl told Sky Sports News.
"I wouldn't say just Renault [are McLaren's rivals]. Everyone is trying to do exactly the same step we want to do. We expect again a very tough battle with all these teams that we were battling last year.
"But for me it's simply important to focus on ourselves: we definitely want to make the next step as a team in terms of car performance but also in terms of how we prepare ourselves to go racing and how we execute the race weekends. I'm very happy with what I have seen over the winter in the progress we have made as a team."
Seidl also stressed that the prospect of winning races before 2023 was still unlikely given the current performance advantage Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - winners of every race since March 2013 - enjoy.
"It's just about being realistic about setting targets," he said. "Of course we are all ambitious - if it happens earlier, it's great, but we shouldn't forget how long it took Mercedes or Red Bull to get to the point of winning races.
"The new regulations, the budget cap coming in, is a great opportunity for us to have a level playing field again in the future with the larger teams. But at the same time, it will take time until this is washing out. The three teams in front of us also simply do a better job. We have a long lost of jobs we want to tackle in prder to get back to where these cars are."
|Reggio Emilia, Italy
Formula 1's new 2020 cars will be put through their paces for the first time in Barcelona later this month - and Sky Sports F1 will be there too with live coverage of all six days of winter testing.
Building on the successful collaboration between Sky Sports and Formula 1 in 2019, live coverage will be expanded to cover both weeks of testing for the first time and will feature all eight hours of track running each day at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The day's action will be followed by the essential review show - The Story So Far - featuring interviews, guests, and analysis from the Sky F1 team as we build up to what promises to be a thrilling F1 2020.
Test One takes place from Wednesday February 19-Friday February 21, with Test Two following on a week later on February 26-28.
The sessions run from 8am to 12pm and then 1pm to 5pm UK time. The Story So Far will air for an hour from 5pm.