McLaren has unveiled its latest grand prix racing car, the MCL33, ahead of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

As widely speculated and heavily hinted, its Halo-fitted 2018 F1 challenger features a return to the team’s historic papaya-orange and blue paint scheme, similar to the design Fernando Alonso ran on his Indianapolis 500 debut last year. Unlike its immediate predecessors, the MCL33 includes minimal use of the colour black.

McLaren is bullish about its chances heading into the new season, with the Woking-based outfit running Renault engines for the first time in its history after switching from Honda power units.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since," McLaren executive director Zak Brown said. "Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back.

“And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes. 

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole," he added. 

“We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.” 

The British squad - which has won 12 drivers’ world championships and eight constructors’ titles - endured a dismal three-year spell with the Japanese engine manufacturer that was hampered by poor reliability and performance.

After picking up more engine-related grid penalties than points during the V6 hybrid era and suffering its worst-ever finish in the constructors’ standings, McLaren opted to pull the plug on its deal with Honda in a bid to return to the top of F1’s pecking order, having not won a race since Jenson Button took victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

McLaren is confident it can start moving back up the grid under Renault’s influence, with chief engineering officer Matt Morris recently saying the team is better prepared heading into 2018 than at any stage of its Honda partnership, despite previously being two weeks behind schedule due to its relatively-late engine switch.

The prospect of a tight battle between McLaren, the Renault works squad and potentially Red Bull is a tantalising one, given all three teams will be running the same-spec Renault power units throughout the upcoming campaign.

“It’s imperative that McLaren looks to re-establish itself on the track this year," McLaren shareholder Mansor Ojjeh said. "Off-track, we have been working as strongly as ever: this year’s car is the result of a fantastic amount of teamwork and effort, of which we can be hugely proud. As ever, this formidable team keeps pushing itself forward, and I applaud everyone at McLaren for their relentless commitment to the mission.

“It’s fantastic to be able to return McLaren’s grand prix cars to the classic papaya orange livery they once sported in the 1960s. They look incredible, and really underline the fearless spirit with which we attack the new season. As a team, we have always been at our best when we are at our bravest, and I think this is another example of that indomitable spirit.” 

McLaren heads into the season with an unchanged driver line-up consisting of double F1 world champion Alonso, who will also contest the 2018/2019 World Endurance Championship ‘superseason’ with Toyota, and second-year driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

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