The Scuderia will be hoping to go one better than last season when Vettel was runner up to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the race for the championship.
The new Prancing Horse features subtle aerodynamic differences around the rear of the car, with a longer wheelbase and larger, more aggressive extra pieces around the sidepods.
McLaren have undergone much wider aerodynamic and chassis changes to incorporate the Renault Power Unit after switching from Honda for this season, as Technical Director Tim Goss explains.
“There are two families of engine out there; the Mercedes and Honda concept, with the compressor at the front of the engine, turbine at the back, MGU-H sat in the vee; and the Ferrari and Renault approach, where the turbo-charger is at the back of the engine, and the MGU-H sits forwards into the vee.
“ I’m actually quite a big fan of the Renault approach. Making the switch had a big impact on the installation of the engine. The advantage of the Renault layout means that we can push the engine forwards, but then you have the compressor at the back of the engine, so you’ve got to get the outlet pipes forward without impacting the packaging.
“We had to redesign the back of the chassis, the gearbox bell-housing area, the rear suspension, and the cooling layout. That was two weeks of intense effort to get right. So now we’ve got a really tidy packaging solution; the gearbox and rear suspension designers did an unbelievable job to redesign everything.”
With the Renault Power Unit upwards of a second per lap faster than Honda last year, McLaren expect their car to challenge for points and possible podiums.