“I think today’s innovative launch demonstrates the enthusiasm within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to engage the general public; to show them that our sport is intense and exciting, and that we’re very keen to showcase Formula 1 to the wider world.

“Through the efforts of FOTA, we really want broaden the sport’s appeal while also introducing innovative and energy-conscious new ideas that will simultaneously improve racing and help generate new technologies within the motor industry.

“I’m hopeful that Formula 1 stands poised on the cusp of an incredible new era.

“With Lewis and Jenson, we have two of the most exciting, charismatic and high-profile personalities in the sport, and the whole team feels a powerful sense of responsibility to provide them with the very best machinery with which to showcase their very evident talents to the world.

“The MP4-26 is the result of an incredible amount of hard work, innovative thinking and dynamic teamwork. Under the leadership of Paddy Lowe [technical director], Tim Goss [engineering director] and Neil Oatley [director of design and development programmes], our design department is more integrated than ever: in fact, I’m particularly proud of the contributions made by our project engineers, many of whom have taken on leadership roles for the very first time and who had worked so well together to create this very striking and individual-looking car.

“While we’re all hopeful of once more adding to our tremendous record in Formula 1, this sport is so unpredictable and finely pitched at the moment that it’s impossible accurately to forecast the state of play until the season starts next month. That’s a tantalising prospect for Formula 1’s many millions of existing fans – and, I hope, something that will attract many millions more by the end of what looks set to be an absolutely fantastic year.”