The 2021 Formula 1 season is inching nearer, and McLaren has given fans a taste of what is to come by firing up its new Mercedes-powered MCL35M for the first time.
This season marks McLaren’s return to being a customer of Mercedes since the two marques parted ways at the end of 2014.
After enjoying its most competitive season the start of the turbo-hybrid era last year, McLaren expects a surge towards the front of the pack now that they are armed with arguably the best power unit on the grid.
The actual car the team will be using is more or less the same as its 2020 model. With a coronavirus-induced development freeze for all teams over the off-season, McLaren has spent the last two weeks tweaking the chassis design to accommodate its new engine.
These include work done to the gearbox bell housing and the shape of the chassis.
Consequently, the team have had to sacrifice a number of their development tokens for the season, which will reduce the amount of in-season development they can do.
The other significant overhaul within the team is its driver line-up.
Australian star Daniel Ricciardo will partner Lando Norris for the full season, starting in Bahrain on March 28.
McLaren will be Ricciardo’s third different team since 2018, though every season has seen him progress further up the championship tally. Last year he finished fifth, with two podiums and two fastest laps next to his name.