McLaren was the third team to launch its 2007 car when it presented the MP4-22 at the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias in Valencia, Spain on January 15th. Race drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton unveiled the new livery at a special street demonstration; the car features a similar chrome look to last season but with the red logo of new title sponsor Vodafone on the side pods.
McLaren claims the design philosophy for the MP4-22 features 'advanced engineering concepts' and 'novel aerodynamic solutions'. Development began even before last season's car was on the race track and areas such as safety, engine homologation and tyres all influenced the design of the new chassis.
"Inevitably people can look at our performance last season and be able to criticise us and frankly, we didn't do a good enough job," said CEO Martin Whitmarsh. "My feeling, having been at this point of the season on many occasions before, is highly optimistic for 2007."
"We are devoid of the tyre competition that we have had in recent years; however we are very happy with our relationship with Bridgestone and their technical approach. We have been working hard on the engineering package and believe we have made good progress to improve our performance."
World champion Alonso, who had one day behind the wheel with McLaren during December testing, is eager to get going in the new car. The team will have its first test of the year starting next week. "The anticipation is massive, it has been a long time waiting for this moment!" The Spaniard exclaimed.
"There are a lot of new things to take into account this year, not just my new team but changes to the regulations and the switch to Bridgestone Potenza tyres. So we have a lot to do, there are many things I have to learn from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and them about me also. I cannot wait to get my hands on the car and start this process."
"After winning the last two Championships you cannot arrive at the first race in 2007 hoping to be on the podium or in the points, you need to be the best. It is for this reason that I switched to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes as we have the same targets for 2007. We both want to be World Champions, I hope to have a car to become Champion and I hope to help the team to take the Constructors' title as well."
Rookie Hamilton is under a lot of scrutiny as he prepares to make his debut alongside Alonso but the 22 year-old Brit is ready for the challenge. "Growing up I always dreamed of racing for McLaren and now, I am," he said. "The thought of racing and working with my teammates is a great feeling, to be driving a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is literally surreal."
"I have been able to watch the development and progress of the new car in the wind tunnel and have been extremely impressed by how hard everybody has been working to get the car ready to challenge for championships in 2007… My aim is always to win but as it is my debut season, I will be working hard to learn as much as possible from Fernando and the whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team."
Team principal and McLaren CEO Ron Dennis commented: "McLaren and Mercedes-Benz have enjoyed a very strong relationship for the past 12 years and we are now looking forward to a successful future as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We all want to win but how we win has always been very important to us and this value will remain the driving force behind our new partnership."
"In parallel we have developed a brand strategy which we hope will capture and project the youthful and dynamic spirit of the new team. In Fernando and Lewis we have two of the most exciting and talented drivers in Formula One. They both have great potential to inspire others to push hard to achieve their dreams."
Alonso is scheduled to shakedown the MP4-22 at Valencia on Wednesday 17th then he and Hamilton will undertake McLaren's first full test from January 24th to 26th, also at Valencia.