McLaren presents 2021 driver line-up and introduces the MCL35M

Norris and Ricciardo kick off 2021 season with live show

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By Olivier Ferret

15 February 2021 - 20:43
McLaren presents 2021 driver line-up

McLaren Racing today unveiled the team’s new driver line-up to a live global audience ahead of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

21-year-old Lando Norris enters his third season in Formula 1 with McLaren, following a breakout season in 2020 that saw the Brit achieve his first F1 podium. In 2021, Norris is joined by seven-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo, 31, from Australia.

2020 saw the team climb to third in the FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championship amid tough competition from a packed midfield, and the logistical challenges of an adapted season due to the covid-19 pandemic. The intense rivalry between teams is expected to continue into 2021 as technical regulations remain stable, further compressing the competition between teams, and financial regulations come into force to provide a sustainable platform for the future of the sport.

Alongside its fresh driver line-up, the team shared a first glimpse of the McLaren MCL35M, the team’s 2021 race car. The MCL35M is an evolution of the 2020 contender, the MCL35, and benefits from aerodynamic and chassis developments by the team throughout the winter. Alongside these developments comes the introduction of a new power unit, supplied by Mercedes-AMG. The Mercedes-AMG M12 E Performance was integrated into the design of the MCL35M by McLaren with the support of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains and represents one of several key changes to the car as part of its evolution into the MCL35M.

The fan-loved livery of the MCL35M has undergone a subtle progression from the 2020 design, maintaining the iconic McLaren papaya orange and blue, the popular colours first carried by the team in the 1960s with team founder, Bruce McLaren, at the wheel.
The team heads into its 54th year of Formula 1 competition with a strong portfolio of more than 40 committed partners at its side and recent investment from MSP Sports Capital and UBS O’Connor, announced at the end of 2020, building on its performance off-track, alongside its on-track progress.

Lando and Daniel will first drive the MCL35M at Silverstone from tomorrow as part the team’s pre-season filming days. The team makes its first official outing at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12 at pre-season testing. McLaren F1 will return to Sakhir for the Formula 1 season-opener, and the team’s first home race, at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing said:

“We’re thrilled to launch our 2021 team with Lando and Daniel, as we prepare to get the Formula 1 season started. We’ve got an incredibly exciting driver line-up this year, both are formidable racers on-track and great characters off-track. Lando is a naturally fast and intelligent racer on an exciting trajectory, while Daniel is a multiple grand prix winner with a sharp racer’s edge and exceptional talent.

“After a challenging but rewarding 2020, we have firmly hit the reset button for this season as we continue on our path towards the front of the grid. This will be an even tougher season but we’re ready to meet the challenge. I want to pay tribute to Formula 1 and the FIA and our fellow teams in continuing to work hard for the benefit of our sport as we strive to bring exciting racing to fans around the world.

“We head into this season with an incredible group of committed and valuable partners at our side, who are such a vital part of our team. 2020 represented a significant challenge, not just for McLaren Racing but also many of our partners, so to have maintained their support is a testament to the quality of our partners and the relationships we have formed on our journey together.

“We’ve really missed having our fantastic fans with us at track, and we can’t wait to have them join us again when safe to do so. As always, we go to every grand prix weekend with the ambition of putting on a great show and achieving the best possible result for our incredible fanbase.

“I’m proud of our team and the progress we’ve made together so far. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve got a great spirit in the team and we’re becoming stronger competitors as we continue on our journey.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren F1, said:

“All of us at McLaren are ready and determined for another season of intensely competitive Formula 1 racing. The entire team has worked hard over the short winter, together with our colleagues from Mercedes-AMG, to produce the MCL35M and provide a strong car for our drivers to race this year. This has been no small challenge, and I want to thank every member of our team, whether at the MTC or working remotely, for the massive effort they’ve put in. Lando and Daniel will, I know, do their very best to represent the team out on track.

“We’re all extremely pleased by how Lando has developed from test and development driver in 2017, to Britain’s youngest podium finisher in 2020. His passion and experience for the sport are growing hand-in-hand, and he’s now one of the fastest and most exciting racing drivers on the grid.

“Daniel represents our next step as a team and his decision to join McLaren is a validation of the progress we’re making. As a proven race-winner and formidable competitor, Daniel brings energy and experience to push McLaren forward on our mission to the front of the field.

“Together, Lando and Daniel comprise one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the sport. With these two behind the wheel of the MCL35M, we know we’ll have a team that gives total commitment in the pursuit of on-track performance as we head into the 2021 season.”

James Key, Technical Director, McLaren F1, said:

“Despite relatively stable technical regulations from 2020, there are several significant aerodynamic changes to the rules that are important to get right. Every change to these regulations presents an opportunity, and the team in Woking has been working incredibly hard in difficult conditions to maximise those opportunities.

“One of the key elements of the MCL35M design is the integration of the Mercedes-AMG power unit, which has taken a considerable effort from the team in Woking, as well as our colleagues at Mercedes. Despite our limited scope for installation in a homologated car, the team has done a fantastic job of optimising our design work.

“Building a Formula 1 car is never easy. These are the fastest and most technically complex racing cars in the world and that challenge has only been compounded by the covid-19 pandemic. Over the past year, the team in the factory has been subject to incredibly strict, rigorous testing and working procedures aimed at keeping our people safe. I’m immensely proud of how our incredible group of people has risen to this challenge and developed the best possible package.”

Lando Norris

“I’m really excited to be back working with the team ahead of my third season in Formula 1. Every time I get into the car I feel like I’m growing in confidence and experience, which helps me build my performance year-on-year. I’ve been working hard personally throughout the off-season to be as sharp as I can when we get to pre-season testing, and I can’t wait to get back in the car soon.

“I’m looking forward to going back to some of the countries we couldn’t race at last year, hopefully with fans as well at some point, who create such an incredible atmosphere in every country we race in. We’ve really missed having our fans trackside and until we can meet again in person, I’ll be working as hard as I can to give them a good show. 2021 is going to be another challenging year on-track with close competition, but I’m just focused on getting back to racing and giving it my all.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“It’s great to have finally joined the team after what feels like an age since we confirmed it last May. I’m thrilled to be a McLaren driver and super-keen to get started. McLaren has been on an awesome journey over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to helping the team maintain this positive momentum. I’ve been spending the last few weeks here in the UK getting fully integrated into the team so that we’re as prepared as possible for the start of the season. I’ve had such a warm welcome from everyone I’ve met and there’s a real sense of unity and focus around the factory, and a lot of excitement!

“Going into this new season in Formula 1, I’m feeling excited and motivated to give it my absolute all. I think my determination to perform has only grown as I’ve gained more experience and I’m looking forward to getting this next chapter in my career started.”

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