McLaren mixes launch of MP4-28 with a blast from the past

McLaren MP4-28

McLaren MP4-28

McLaren unveiled their 2013 Formula One car with an ear-splitting blast from the past on Thursday, at their sleek Woking headquarters, as the team celebrated 50 years in motor racing and looked forward to returning to the top this season.

Jenson Button arrived in the McLaren P1

Jenson Button arrived in the McLaren P1

Paying tribute to the company’s late founder Bruce McLaren, who died in 1970, a succession of winning cars spanning the decades was driven around an ornamental lake and into the futuristic factory atrium in a wall of sound before the sleek new MP4-28 was revealed.

2009 world champion Jenson Button, who arrived at the function in the company’s prototype McLaren P1 supercar, will be the effective leader on the track with new Mexican team mate Sergio Perez chasing his first win after two seasons with Sauber.

Perez, who drove up in a bright orange McLaren MP4-12C, made it clear that he was out for more than just the occasional top step of the podium, however, with a team that finished third overall last year.

“I want to win the championship, that’s my target,” declared Perez, standing alongside a smiling Button after the pair drove into the factory – the Mexican leading the more experienced Briton – in McLaren sportscars.

Button said that he was “raring to go” in a car that looked, on the surface, very similar to the one that won seven races last season.

Sergio Perez and Jenson Button uncover the McLaren MP4-28

Sergio Perez and Jenson Button uncover the McLaren MP4-28

“It’s exactly the same colour scheme so some people might look at this and go ‘ah, it looks kind of similar to last year’ but I tell you, this is completely different,” said Button. “Under the skin, it is so, so different.”

The launch marked the start of a new era for the Mercedes-powered team after the departure of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, to rivals Mercedes.

Hamilton was not the only notable absentee, with the team’s long-serving technical director Paddy Lowe playing no part in the launch after earlier being linked with a move to Mercedes.

“It is less certain, as has been speculated in the media, beyond that but it’s something I’m sure we will have some certainty on in the near future, said McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.

“Clearly there is a lot of media interest and I think it’s good that Paddy concentrates on doing his job. I don’t think he wants to create any embarrassment to the team or any of his colleagues,” added Whitmarsh.

“So at his own election he felt it was inappropriate for him to be here,” he added.

Whitmarsh said that McLaren has to be more consistent after failing to make the most of what was, at least at the start and end of last season, the quickest car on the grid.

“Clearly we can’t be satisfied with an outcome where we win quite a few races, are fast most of the time, but don’t actually win the championship,” he said. (Reuters)

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