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Alonso, Hamilton gear up for McLaren launch 15 Jan 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 6 December 2006. World ©  Hartley/Sutton.

McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will unveil the team’s 2007 livery to an expected crowd of more than 150,000 in Valencia, Spain on Monday afternoon.

McLaren’s latest colours will be displayed on two of last year’s MP4-21 machines, which Alonso and Hamilton will drive on a specially-constructed street circuit around the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias, ahead of the official launch of the team’s 2007 car, the MP4-22.

“This is a fantastic day for me - I am really proud to be introducing myself as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver in my home country, and of course to help present my new team to the Spanish fans,” said world champion Alonso.

“It is a great team and I am excited about this new beginning. My fans are such an inspiration and it is great to bring the team so close to them. I hope they enjoy watching Lewis and myself drive the cars in their new livery around the streets of Valencia.”

For Hamilton, Monday’s events see the realisation of a childhood ambition. “Growing up, I saw so many Formula One launches in the media, and to be here in Valencia to unveil the new Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team really brings home to me the distance I have travelled to achieve my dream of becoming a grand prix driver,” he said.

“There is still a long way for me to go, as I am at the early stages of my career and have a lot to learn, but the passion I have for the sport and this team is immense, I cannot wait to take to the grid in Australia in March. This year will be about firsts for me, starting with today and my first Formula One presentation and my first demonstration run. It will be great to take the cars onto the streets and I hope the fans like the new livery as much as I do!”

McLaren will put the new MP4-22 through a shakedown run at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo on Wednesday, before their intensive pre-season testing programme commences on January 24 at the same track.

Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett join Alonso and Hamilton to complete McLaren’s 2007 driver line-up. De la Rosa and Paffett, who are starting their fifth and second years with the team respectively, will continue to support the ongoing technical development of the MP4-22 package during the course of the year alongside their race colleagues.