Morning Chronicle - McLaren aim to 'close the gap' as 2022 car launched

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McLaren aim to 'close the gap' as 2022 car launched
McLaren aim to 'close the gap' as 2022 car launched

McLaren aim to 'close the gap' as 2022 car launched

McLaren unveiled their car for the 2022 season on Friday with team principal Andreas Seidl hoping the MCL36 can "further close the gap to the front of the pack".

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The wraps came off the papaya and blue liveried machine in a live virtual show from the team's Woking-based factory.

The launch came 48 hours after British driver Lando Norris nailed his colours to the McLaren mast in a new contract until 2025.

Daniel Ricciardo, in his second season after joining from Renault, has another two years left on his deal.

The ever-upbeat Australian took time to settle in to his new surroundings but then bagged McLaren's first Grand Prix win since 2012.

That came at Monza last year where Norris followed him across the line for a memorable 1-2 finish.

Their end of season haul of points was their highest in almost a decade - concrete evidence that the team is on the right track as it goes about a return to its golden past.

The outfit that boasts Rowan Atkinson of 'Mr Bean' fame as one of its biggest fans, had a lengthy period on F1's summit.

Launched in 1966 at the Monaco Grand Prix by Bruce McLaren it is second only to Ferrari in the amount of silverware it has stockpiled over the past half a century.

Ricciardo's Monza success took their tally of grand prix wins to 183, with 12 drivers' and eight constructors world titles.

Seidl pointed to the encouraging progress made last term as evidence the team "head into 2022 better prepared to tackle this new challenge" as F1 introduces a raft of new regulations to produce closer racing.

"Together, Lando and Daniel comprise one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the sport," he said.

"We can’t wait to see what they can do with the MCL36, into which every member of the team in Woking has poured enormous amounts of effort, passion and determination."

Seidl said Norris had produced one of the "standout" performances of 2021 with four podium finishes and a pole position.

"He came agonisingly close to his first race victory, and although we didn't quite achieve that, he's proven to the world that he can become a Grand Prix winner."

Norris, 22, and his decade-older teammate, will put their new car through its paces at testing in Barcelona from February 23-25 ahead of the season-opener in Bahrain on March 20.

Alpha Tauri are the next team to present its car Monday, followed next week by Williams, Ferrari and Mercedes.