Released to almost no fanfare from the team, McLaren rolled out their all-new car in the pitlane at Barcelona back in January. The car is a clear development of the MP4-20 - a car that failed to win either championships but was clearly the fastest for the much of the 2005 season.
Last year the team delayed the design of the new car to better accommodate the then-new one-race tyre rule and revised aero regulations. This move clearly gained McLaren the pace over their rivals, but the car's season was blighted early on by over-conservatism on their tyre use and latterly over optimistic designs costing reliability. These two issues allowed Renault to build and maintain an advantage they were never to lose.
In preparation for 2006, McLaren ran the Mercedes V8 in a car as early as the September test at Silverstone, having first run the engine on the dyno only three months earlier. They also ran this revised MP4-20 throughout early winter testing. Meanwhile, the design and build of the new car continued. The only disruptions to their winter programme were a limited supply of the interim V8 engines - which prevented further running in the MP4-20 - and question marks over the new engine's power output.