McLaren MCL34 Launch & Winter Testing – Preview

Fernando Alonso, Singapore Grand Prix 2018; McLaren MCL34 Preview
Photo: © McLaren / LAT Images

McLaren will launch their 2019 Formula 1 challenger, the McLaren MCL34, on the 14th of February, 4 days prior to the start of winter testing in Barcelona.

The Woking based team ended devolopment of the MCL33 after only the 5th round of the 2018 World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix, to identify the underlying problems of the car, switching focus to 2019.

“We are working very hard and very deep into the weakness of the car. In Barcelona, we introduced a new package with a new front nose and different things and we recovered a little bit so we performed well in Barcelona and Monaco.

“But then we came back to our original problems and lack of performance. Now, after investing three or four Friday FP1s doing just aero development and aero understanding, we know that maybe we compromised the race weekend a little but we get a lot of information.

“Now we are at the point that we know exactly what to do. There are some fixes for this year but let’s say that 70% of the knowledge and the understanding of the car will be for next year’s project because it requires time – three or four months development and wind tunnel time etc – that is probably better to invest for next year.”

– Fernando Alonso, Singapore Grand Prix 2018

Despite the lack of development, Fernando Alonso finished the season in a quite impressive 11th place in the drivers’ standings, with McLaren finishing 6th in the constructors’.

McLaren MCL34 Launch

McLaren shared a video on the 31st of January, of their first successful fire up of the Renault-powered MCL34, showing Carlos Sainz’ and the staff’s reaction.

More positive news for McLaren came later that day, when they announced one of Carlos Sainz’s sponsor, Estrella Galicia, to be joining McLaren on a long-term Formula 1 partnership.

The McLaren MCL34 will be launched on the 14th of February 2019, 12:00 GMT – the car will be unveiled online and broadcasted on Sky Sports F1, for the UK viewers.

Winter Testing & Fernando Alonso?

Formula 1’s 2019 entire winter testing will be held in Barcelona. The first test will be starting on the 18th of February and concluding on the 21st of February.

Winter testing will be broadcasted live, for the first time ever, by Formula 1, on F1 TV. Sky Sports F1 will broadcast their own coverage of the first test, for the first time, since 2013.

18th of FebruaryFist Test, Day OneBarcelona, SpainF1 TV, Sky Sports F1
19th of FebruaryFirst Test, Day TwoBarcelona, SpainF1 TV, Sky Sports F1
20th of FebruaryFirst Test, Day ThreeBarcelona, SpainF1 TV, Sky Sports F1
21st of FebruaryFirst Test, Day FourBarcelona, SpainF1 TV, Sky Sports F1

Zak Brown spoke to Fernando Alonso, about testing the MCL34, in late 2018 – the Spaniard is still part of McLaren, however, nothing about the upcoming winter testing is yet confirmed.

“We have spoken about testing and that is something we are going to talk about further over the winter, we need to look at our entire programme, and certainly having Fernando’s experience in the car would be a great thing.

“But we also need to ensure that our two new drivers get sufficient time in the car, because they are going to be our race drivers next year, so it is an ongoing situation.

“I think Fernando will watch not only what McLaren does, but I trade notes with Fernando, I wouldn’t quite say daily but very often.

“He was following how our GT3 car was doing in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, he was sending me notes. For sure he is going to watch our progress with interest because he is still part of the family.”

– Zak Brown, Post Season Testing, Abu Dhabi 2018

From a realistic point of view, if Fernando Alonso is given the chance to test the new MCL34, it’s more likely to be in the second Barcelona test. Alonso’s next race will be the 1000 Miles of Sebring, on the 15th of March.

26th of FebruarySecond Test, Day OneBarcelona, SpainF1 TV
27th of FebruarySecond Test, Day TwoBarcelona, SpainF1 TV
28th of FebruarySecond Test, Day ThreeBarcelona, SpainF1 TV
1st of MarchSecond Test, Day FourBarcelona, SpainF1 TV