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Ron's big night out

THE West McLaren Mercedes team blew a vast sum of money last week in London to reveal the color scheme of the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/12. The idea was to have the biggest ever launch in F1 history, promote a new lively image for McLaren and Mercedes-Benz and reintroduce silver as the racing colors of the German company.

In an effort to get the maximum coverage possible for the new partnership, the team embarked on the idea of a launch involving the Britain's top pop act of the moment: The Spice Girls. The venue chosen was the vast Alexandra Palace exhibition center in North London and several thousand guests were invited to the event, which was partially funded by allowing paying music fans to watch the group in action.

Among those present for the event was 92-year-old Manfred von Brauchitsch, the first driver to win a Grand Prix in a "Silver╩Arrow" Mercedes at the Eifelrennen on the old Nurburgring in June 1934, the first event at which Mercedes racing cars appeared in silver livery.

Last autumn McLaren commissioned six graphic design companies around the world to come up with ideas for a new silver livery, to replace McLaren's traditional Marlboro color scheme. The winning idea came from the London-based Fitch company and is a very striking silver and black design.

The bill for McLaren's launch is rumored to be in the region of $2.2m - not bad for a single evening...

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