First fire-up for McLaren’s Mercedes-powered MCL35M

2021 F1 season

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McLaren has become the first Formula 1 team to release footage of its 2021 car firing up ahead of the new season.

The McLaren-Mercedes MCL35M was fired up for the first time at the McLaren Technology Centre yesterday.

The car, a development of last year’s Renault-powered MCL35, is the first McLaren to be powered by a Mercedes engine since the MP4-29, raced by the team in 2014.

In order to limit costs in the final year of the current technical regulations, teams have only been permitted to introduce a limited number of changes to their cars between seasons. However McLaren’s production director Piers Thynne said the integration of a new power unit in the MCL35M meant substantial changes were necessary.

“Whereas every other team will carry over most of its car from last year into this year, our switch to the Mercedes power unit means that’s not the case for us,” he said. “It’s driven a huge amount of change and, essentially, we’ve been building a new car. The number of new parts on the MCL35M is about the same as when we built the MCL35.

“The back of the chassis and gearbox bell housing around the engine have changed significantly to adapt to the new power unit. Changing power unit greatly alters the architecture of the car and the way everything is packaged, so the entire cooling layout and all the pipework – be that for fluid or air – has changed, along with all electrical harnessing and control boxes.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “First fire-up for McLaren’s Mercedes-powered MCL35M”

  1. Cant wait to see these iconic brands together in the livery. From the uniform colors I guess that the livery will feature more black this year, maybe similar to 2017.

  2. Not sure they really want to be touting the “substantial changes” in chassis layout and component design. Probably just cover it off as token revisions.
    It will be interesting to see if they continue the high rake concept or follow the lead of Racing Point and go more towards the Mercedes philosophy.
    Awesome to see they are progressing well. Is it March yet….?

    1. Not going to lie, I got excited the other day thinking it was the end of February. Got all excited for winter testing being in a week and for all the cars to start being unveiled. Only to learn it’s a month until I am at that point again…

  3. Now we know why Lewis has not signed yet, he may want to go back to McLaren to be Dannie’s teammate. (joke)

  4. Why are they plugging their ears?

    1. Judging by the weird zoom on the ear protectors on the table, this is at least partially intended as a commercial for one of their sponsors.

    2. A lad had his phone on loudspeaker

  5. I think McLaren are going to be a bit of a dark horse this year.

    1. I’d love them to be given our local man has joined them, but I’m not holding out much hope given that they’ll have pretty much used up all their tokens just to put the new PU.
      They “might” start OK (and that’s a huge might) but as the season progresses I’d expect them to fall behind. If they’re lacking at all at the season start, they’ll be in real trouble as they’ll really have no ability to resolve any shortcomings, again because of the token system.

      1. @dbradock They had to use both of their tokens for the PU installation, so none left for development. Yes, overall development is limited by the rules, so this doesn’t help them either, but my gut feeling has been that they’d be behind their direct rivals at least in early-season, but you make a good point in that if they’re behind early on, they might stay behind all season.

  6. Theses haven’t been interesting for like 6 years.

    1. @Robert I find V6 fire-ups equally interesting.

    2. Actually go listen all 6 years maybe you notice a difference (going from a buzz to a chainsaw) Not the yaking sound of a v10 but those will never return.

  7. Great too see them getting on with it after the troubled early years of the 1.6 ltr turbohybrid era. I really feel they can achieve something great this year.

  8. I turned the volume right up but all I could hear was Mrs Overall hoovering

  9. Looking forward to seeing McLaren on the podium, hopefully it will be Lando.

  10. “The back of the chassis and gearbox bell housing around the engine have changed significantly to adapt to the new power unit.”
    So ‘No’ as to whether McLaren is utilising a Merc gearbox.

    First race a week before Easter. That is a l-o-n-g time to wait.

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