McLaren became the first team to launch their campaign for the 2021 Formula One season on Monday with what can be best described as the Lando and Daniel Variety Show.
COVID-19 has put paid to grand ceremonies for the time being.
Say goodbye to the elaborate car reveals in the plazas of Europe with the dazzling light shows and acrobats hanging from the side of buildings.
It is a simpler affair this year, although McLaren, bless them, did manage to drag their launch of the MCL35M out for 45 minutes.
With the backdrop of a virtual wall full of McLaren fans, who waved every time they spotted themselves on the camera as is the protocol when you are in that situation, there were interviews with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, and later on with McLaren CEO, Zak Brown, and team principal, Andreas Seidl.
A select few fans were able to ask the pressing questions of the day, including whether Ricciardo had taught Norris any Aussie slang yet.
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While the car launch itself was a small part of the live stream, it was a good bit of fun, and it was interesting to hear Ricciardo discuss why he moved to McLaren, although that is now sprinkled with all kinds of PR-friendly soundbites, as is to be expected.
There’s new music on the way from Norris and Ricciardo too, although – spoiler alert – the chances of them topping the charts anytime soon is minimal.
Thank goodness the day job is going well, with McLaren going into 2021 off the back of their best season since 2012, finishing third in the constructors’ championship last year.
Their goal this year is for more of the same.
The aim is not to be championship contenders, as that is an unrealistic prospect, but to continue along the road to redemption, which they have been successfully travelling since the lows of the partnership with Honda a few seasons ago.
And with near identical regulations this season compared to last season, there is no reason at this stage to not think that McLaren will have as good a season as they had in 2020.
There is also the added benefit of now using the Mercedes power unit, which has been the dominant power unit of Formula One’s turbo hybrid era, restoring the McLaren-Mercedes partnership which kept the team competitive all the way from the late 1990s to the early 2010s.
The drivers who will drive the MCL35M aren’t so bad themselves, with McLaren again fielding two drivers of equal calibre who can create a strong intra-team rivalry.
Even though McLaren are currently the only team to have launched their season and the bigger picture of how the rest of the field is shaping up is yet to develop, McLaren still find themselves in a very good place heading into the new season, sitting ready to face off their challengers.