The Honda-powered MCL32 will be driven by double world champion Fernando Alonso and the man who deputised for him in Bahrain last year, Belgian newcomer Stoffel Vandoorne.
Resting on the new car are McLaren’s hopes of moving up the order after an improved but still disappointing 2016 campaign, in which they finished sixth in the constructors’ table, with sixth place also their best race result.
The MCL32 follows in the evolutionary footsteps of its two immediate predecessors, the MP4-30 and MP4-31, but has been overhauled in every area as McLaren’s design team looked to capitalise on the series of new aerodynamic regulations introduced for 2017.
The result, say McLaren, is an extremely elegant but aggressive-looking race car, fitted with Honda’s latest-generation power unit, the RA617H, which has been thoroughly revised by the Japanese company’s team of engineers.
A valuable opportunity
“Within McLaren-Honda, there’s a tangible feeling of progress, of change,” said racing director Eric Boullier. “This year’s rules reset is a valuable opportunity for us - it will allow us to make progress with what we feel is a well ordered and clearly defined chassis-engine package, and hopefully to narrow the delta between us and the front-running teams.
“The addition of a striking orange and black paint job reinforces the notion that we’re moving away from what immediately preceded it, but it’s the engineering detail on the MCL32 that really impresses me.
“It’s the result of a huge amount of work from a team that has really developed together over the past few years. The chassis is incredibly well realised, the power unit has been significantly developed and, in Fernando and Stoffel, we have a hugely exciting driver pairing that’s already blending really well.”
The MCL32 is the third McLaren to use Honda engines since the two parties revived their partnership, and this year’s power unit, the RA617H, features major revisions in terms of concept and layout.
“The main areas of change that we focused on has been to decrease the weight and lower the centre of gravity, so as to improve the balance of the car, while generating more output from the ICE [internal combustion engine],” commented Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer.
“Also, owing to the new 2017 regulations fundamentally affecting the design of our new car, Honda has made a lot of changes to accommodate the updated chassis. The team has therefore continued their hard work throughout the winter to find an ideal balance.”