McLaren unveiled its 2012 contender, the MP4-27, at its Woking HQ this morning, 2011 championship runner-up Jenson Button describing the car as beautiful.
The presentation of the MP4-27 at the McLaren Technology Centre revealed a natural evolution of last year's six-race-winning car and underlined the message that the new season is very much one of growth through strength and continuity.
After finishing second in both the drivers' and constructors' championships in 2011, the team's aim for 2012 is to fight for both world titles from the very start of this year's campaign.
While the MP4-27 closely resembles last year's multiple race-winning car, the new chassis has been substantially revised from the ground-up, with all major systems updated or re-designed for the new season. The most evident visual differences include more tightly waisted rear bodywork, developed to improve flow to the rear of the car, and a revised cooling system, which re-directs the gearbox oil-cooler. Last year's U-shaped sidepods have also been re-designed - a legacy of the FIA's new exhaust regulations that redefine the shape of the rear bodywork.
McLaren is the only team in F1 whose driver line-up consists of two world champions: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Between them, they have scored 22 grand prix victories for the team and are the strongest and most consistent driver line-up in the sport. Maintaining the partnership into a third successive season was merely a formality.
On the technical front, the engineering trio of Tim Goss (director of engineering), Paddy Lowe (technical director) and Neil Oatley (director of design and development programmes) once more remains at the forefront of the drawing office. For 2012, they will be joined by sporting director Sam Michael, whose arrival coincides with the re-organisation of our trackside personnel roster to ensure both growth and development within the group.
Away from the track, the team continues to develop, too: last year McLaren became the world's first carbon-neutral Formula 1 team, efficiently managing its carbon footprint and purchasing carbon credits to completely offset its emissions.
"With the regulations remaining relatively stable, we've really been able to focus on the detail with this year's car.," said Button. "I still think we had a very fast package last year - it was very strong in certain areas - and our race pace was almost always fantastic, but we're hoping for a further step forwards in 2012. With Mercedes-Benz, I think we also had the best overall engine and KERS Hybrid package in the pitlane.
"We were also able to continuously develop throughout the year to match Red Bull - and that shows that we have the knowledge, effort and resources to sustain our efforts across the course of a whole season, which can be crucial.
"I know that the whole team is extremely proud of the MP4-27. It may look like a direct evolution of last year's car, but we've analysed every area of performance over the winter and the whole car has benefited from lots of fresh thinking and new ideas in every area. I'm really looking forward to getting behind the wheel in Spain next week.
"I know that everyone will be watching us very closely to see what progress we make during the pre-season tests, but I genuinely believe we have every reason to feel optimistic about the progress we've made and our competitiveness this year."
"The winter has been a great opportunity to recharge," added Lewis Hamilton. "I got away into the mountains, spent a lot of time hiking and running, improving my fitness and starting to prepare for the new year.