McLaren-Honda unveil new orange, black & white car for 2017 season

McLaren
The new McLaren car is a change from the dark grey of 2016

McLaren-Honda have unveiled their 2017 Formula 1 car in a brand new orange, black and white livery.

The new colour scheme, a change from dark grey, is a visible manifestation of a new era at McLaren following the departure of former boss Ron Dennis.

The orange reflects McLaren's historic original racing colour, while the white is engine partner Honda's corporate branding.

New executive director Zak Brown said the aim was "to get back to winning".

McLaren have not won a race since 2012 and have had a disappointing time since the start of their new link-up with Honda in 2015. Last year they improved to finish sixth overall.

They have a new driver this year, with Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne joining two-time champion Fernando Alonso.

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"We're going to get there," Brown added. "The team is highly frustrated we're not wining but we have a new package and it takes time.

"Last year there was forward progress and that's what we need to see this year.

"With Fernando and Stoffel, I wouldn't want a different driver line-up. We have everything we need."

The new car features many of the design tweaks seen on other cars following the new regulations aimed at making the cars faster, more demanding and more dramatic.

There is a 'shark fin' engine cover and complicated aerodynamic detailing around the nose and in front of the bodywork on either side of the cockpit.

Two-time champion Alonso, who is entering his 16th season, said: "It is an important year for us. It has been a difficult 2015 and 2016 and we have high hopes this year we will come back to where we belong.

"We need to not promise anything to the fans or ourselves, just work hard do good winter testing with a lot of mileage. But if we are here today it is because we believe we can win.

"With the new regulations, the car looks spectacular and I am looking forward to it. They become sexy when they are fast, so we will see. But they are the best-looking cars I have driven.

"There are some hopes the new regulations will improve the show and make the excitement a little bit bigger but we need to wait and see. After next week in Barcelona we will have some answers and after the two first races some more."

Vandoorne said he was looking forward to racing alongside Alonso and hopeful he could compete with the 35-year-old Spaniard.

Honda F1 chief Yusuka Hasegawa said the engine had been modified - made lighter, with more power and a lower centre of gravity.

"We are not making any promises but our aim is to make progress and catch up the front-runners," he said.

McLaren F1 car launch
Honda has placed the two parts of the turbo system at opposite ends of the engine, like Mercedes

Hasegawa said he hoped Honda would reach by the start of the season the engine performance level with which Mercedes ended last year but that he did not know how much progress the world champions had made over the winter.

"I heard Mercedes did a great job, which is very unfortunate," he said. "I really hope we can close the gap on them.

"I am feeling we are not far from [where they were last year]. I think we will catch [that level up] at the beginning of the season."

Honda has followed the lead of Mercedes in terms of hybrid engine layout, with the two parts of the turbocharger system at opposite ends of the engine - the compressor at the front and the turbine at the back.

And they are now using the same high-tech combustion technology in the cylinders as Mercedes, too.

Alonso said: "We put a lot of resources in this year's car. We changed completely the philosophy of the engine, which is risky but needed if we wanted to win because the engine of the last two years was not good enough if we wanted to win."

Analysis

A new orange, white and black livery signalled the new era at McLaren post-Ron Dennis at their car launch, but what really matters is whether the car is any good after four difficult seasons.

The design team exuded a quiet confidence the team can progress but there was a tacit admission from aerodynamic chief Peter Prodromou that Mercedes are clearly still ahead on the chassis when he admitted to having been "impressed" by the silver car.

Honda, too, are confident of a step forward - but the expectation to be at the level Mercedes were with their engine at the end of 2016 raises the question of how much further forward the German company have moved since.

Where all that leaves Fernando Alonso and his unquenched rage to win again remains to be seen. One way or another, it will be an interesting year at McLaren.

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