The MP4-22 launches in Valencia

McLarenMcLaren are the third team to launch their car in 2007. The MP4-22 was launched today in Valencia, and later on, Hamilton and Alonso will take to the streets and drive around a special street circuit setup specially for the launch.

McLaren’s official team name for 2007 is ‘Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’. They claim that their new car features “advanced engineering concepts” and “novel aerodynamic solutions”, and they hope these features will help them win the World Championship. Long-term planning has been key to the new MP4-22 car with it’s development period starting before the MP4-21 had even touched a race-track. Over 4,500 component and 3,500 tooling drawings were made in the preparation period and the car itself is made up of over 11,000 components.

McLaren’s CEO, Martin Whitmarsh, has high hopes for 2007. “My feeling, having been at this point of the season on many occasions before, is highly optimistic for 2007,” he said.”We are devoid of the tyre competition that we have had in recent years; however we are very happy with our relationship with Bridgestone and their technical approach. We have been working hard on the engineering package and believe we have made good progress to improve our performance.”

Meanwhile, Alonso is eager to get into the new car and he cannot wait for the first test of the year next week. “The anticipation is massive,” Alonso exclaimed. “It has been a long time waiting for this moment! After winning the last two Championships you cannot arrive at the first race in 2007 hoping to be on the podium or in the points, you need to be the best. It is for this reason that I switched to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes as we have the same targets for 2007. We both want to be World Champions, I hope to have a car to become Champion and I hope to help the team to take the Constructors’ title as well.”

Alonso will be joined by rookie Brit, Lewis Hamilton, who feelshe is ready for the challenges which lie ahead. “Growing up I always dreamed of racing for McLaren and now, I am,” he said. “The thought of racing and working with my teammates is a great feeling, to be driving a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is literally surreal.”

“I have been able to watch the development and progress of the new car in the wind tunnel and have been extremely impressed by how hard everybody has been working to get the car ready to challenge for championships in 2007… My aim is always to win but as it is my debut season, I will be working hard to learn as much as possible from Fernando and the whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team.”

Alonso is expected to be driving at the shakedown in Valencia on wednesday 17 January, and both Alonso and Hamilton are expected to be present at the first test of the year, again in Valencia, on the weekend of the 24 January.