Fernando Alonso was all smiles when he stepped out of his new McLaren MCL33 after a shakedown run at the Navarra circuit on Sunday.
The team took advantage of its film day to do a systems check of its new papaya charger before heading to Barcelona over the weekend when pre-season testing kicks off on Monday.
It was a short run for the Spaniard, but one which definitely got his juices flowing on the eve of a season in which both team and driver hope to turn around their fortunes.
“It felt great!” said the tow-time world champion fresh from his shakedown stint.
“It’s always a special moment driving a car for the first time. It felt really good, so I’m looking forward to doing a proper lap now.
Gallery: McLaren’s new MCL33 in detail
“It’s only 50 kilometres for me, 50 kilometres for Stoffel [this afternoon], about ten laps each and we’ll be behind equipment and camera cars so not much speed really!
“It’s more a case of getting the pedals, the seat, the comfort right. We might do some small temperature and bodywork changes.”
Stakes are how for both McLaren and Alonso this year, but putting the stunning looking car on track and enjoying a trouble-free few laps was a reason to rejoice following the pain associated with the Woking-based team’s prolonged period of under-performance.
“Today is just emotional. It’s been an intense few months at the factory and behind the scenes and I’m very proud of everyone,” he added.
“Today arrives, the car is running and everyone is happy!
“The good times are coming – that’s the message.
“Motivation is very high – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! The last few years have made us a stronger team and we will see the result of that this year!”
Both Stoffel Vandooren and McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris also enjoyed a short ride in the MCL33 on Thursday.
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