Paying tribute to the company's late founder Bruce McLaren, who died in 1970, a succession of winning cars spanning the decades were driven around an ornamental lake and into the futuristic factory atrium in a wall of sound before the sleek new MP4-28 was revealed.
Britain's Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, will be the effective leader on the track with new Mexican team mate Sergio Perez chasing his first win after two seasons with Sauber.
Perez made clear he was out for more than just the occasional top step of the podium, however, with a team that finished third overall last year.
"I want to win the championship, that's my target," declared Perez, standing alongside a smiling Button after the pair drove into the factory - the Mexican leading the more experienced Briton - in McLaren sportscars.
Button said he was raring to go in a car that looked, on the surface, very similar to the one that won seven races last season.
"It's exactly the same colour scheme so some people might look at this and go 'ah, it looks kind of similar to last year' but I tell you, this is completely different," said Button.
"Under the skin, it is so, so different."
The launch marked the start of a new era for the Mercedes-powered team after the departure of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, who made his debut with McLaren in 2007, to rivals Mercedes.
Hamilton was not the only notable absentee, with the team's long-serving technical director Paddy Lowe playing no part in the launch after being linked with a move to Mercedes.
"The certainty is that Paddy will be a part of the team for another year," said McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh, offering no longer-term assurance.
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- Jenson Button
- Sergio Perez