McLaren have issued a “save the date” to F1 fans, with February 15 circled for when they will officially launch the MCL35M.
The Woking-based team, third in last year’s constructors’ World Championship, have had probably the most work to carry out over the winter as they are switching engine providers for 2021 to Mercedes.
But on Wednesday, they showed the world via video that they were in a position to fire the car up – and that has meant that in a few weeks, McLaren will be in a position to take the wraps off the car that will be driven by Lando Norris and new arrival Daniel Ricciardo.
In a social media post, the time of the launch is indicated as 7pm and, according to Motorsport.com, it will take place at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking and be broadcast in partnership with Sky Sports F1.
So far, the day after St Valentine’s Day, with February 15 being a Monday, puts McLaren at the front of the queue in terms of unveiling their 2021 challenger.
Save the date. 15-02-21.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) January 28, 2021
Alfa Romeo have picked out February 22 for when they will launch their car in Warsaw, while two days later AlphaTauri have reportedly pencilled in a filming day at Imola.
Piers Thynne, McLaren F1 Production Director, revealed the team are on schedule with the MCL35M, although some “challenges” remain, while crash tests were passed in December.
“If you work in the production team, you work hard every single month of the year but when you really earn your money is in January and February – it’s the toughest time of the year,” he told the McLaren website.
“We are on plan with a lot of things. There are some challenges in certain areas at the moment, but that’s F1. If you’re not encountering any problems, you’re probably not being aggressive enough. If everything is easy and straightforward it tends to mean you’re giving performance away because you’re not pushing the boundaries.
“The real challenge isn’t necessarily producing the launch car, it’s how you evolve from it by upgrading it as quickly as possible. The key is to not spend time and resource on anything that isn’t needed. If you make too many launch-spec parts, you’ve wasted capacity that could have been used to produce an upgrade to the latest specification.
“The homologation of the chassis is always a huge, huge milestone. It’s an uneasy and anxious time for lots of people in the team. It reminds me of when my wife gave birth to twins – the only difference is that we have to go through homologation every year!
“We are the only team that had to do it for this year’s car because every other team has carried its 2020 chassis over to 2021. We didn’t have this luxury due to the changes made to the chassis to accommodate the switch to the Mercedes power unit.
“There were some challenges, as is the case every year, but good teamwork between manufacturing and design meant the chassis was homologated on time in December.”