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Horse power meets people power at the MCL32 car launch

At the launch of the McLaren-Honda MCL32, as the final glass of Chandon S was downed, and the last few hard-working journalists pounded their laptop keyboards in a final bid to get their copy down the line, the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre lay strangely quiet and empty.

But only for a few minutes…

All morning it had hosted McLaren-Honda’s partner and media launch events for 2017’s MCL32 grand prix car. Now, those events were over.

Suddenly, a train of black-outfitted team members started snaking down the long, winding corridor that connects the TLC with the McLaren Technology Centre. Soon, 150 smiling, bubbly, enthusiastic people were sat in the circular auditorium ready for the first of a series of arguably the most important launch events of the day: showing off MCL32 to the people who created it.

Replayed in full, including the spectacular 360-degree video and sound and light installation, the whole launch event had a greater resonance when played to an internal McLaren audience. As the screen blinked black and the words ‘Change Your Game’ appeared in huge white letters, the words felt less of a slogan, more a command, an instruction; a call to arms.

As the bass surged and the breakbeats bounded, the darkness was punctuated by dozens of phone-camera lights, all keenly capturing the event as it unfolded.

And, as the lights came up and the covers came off, there was a spontaneous and instantaneous round of applause. When the instruction was given that staff could leave their seats and come and grab photos, videos and selfies around the car, there was a huge surge to the front.

The screenings went on throughout the afternoon – until, in fact, the car had to be returned to the race bays and packed for Barcelona. Each time, the result was the same – an outpouring of enthusiasm and collective pride for the object on display. It might have been a hunk of carbon-fibre, titanium, steel, paint and rubber, but it was a talisman for the collective efforts of hundreds of passionate individuals; it meant something.

And that’s important.

Too often, the whirlwind pace of building, testing, travelling and racing leaves little time for contemplation. On the afternoon of Friday 24th February, the MTC demonstrated that pausing to admire the view and appreciates one’s efforts isn’t merely a nice option, it’s sometimes a necessity.

And that’s important, too.