Woking shows off its latest racer - and brings out a few old ones to celebrate 50 years in the business
McLaren invited us over to its rather splendid – and, now, rather well-known – Technology Centre near Woking where, against the backdrop of the building’s modern glass curve, the landscaped grounds and, of course, the lake, the team’s new MP4-28 Formula 1 car was unveiled for the first time.
The M8D - a bittersweet milestone
To the untrained eye, the new car looks vastly similar to its predecessor – as is to be expected with regulations that remain largely unchanged. Of course, the MP4-28 is entirely new, with minute – but very significant – changes. So much so that, according to Martin Whitmarsh, the 28 is already quicker than the car that McLaren finished the 2012 season with, and that’s before the weeks of testing that lay ahead before the first race in Australia on March 17th.
Of course, a new Formula 1 reveal doesn’t tell us an awful lot about how good the car is – the proof of that particular pudding will come when the MP4-28 hits the track. However, there’s further cause to celebrate as this year marks a half century in the business for McLaren – indeed, on the 2nd September 2013 it’ll be 50 years to the day since Bruce McLaren first established his own Formula 1 team. And, as they put it, what better way to start the celebrations than by wheeling out some of McLaren’s most significant racers in a parade through the Technology Centre’s atrium, complete with obligatory throttle blips?
Senna's MP4/4: for many, the greatest McLaren
So this morning, we’ve been treated to the sight and sound of, in order, the M8D Can-Am car, in one of which McLaren himself lost his life testing at Goodwood in 1970; the M23 that, in Emerson Fittipaldi’s hands, took the 1974 championship; Ayrton Senna’s MP4/4, again a championship-winning car that provided epic some of the Brazilian’s most famous battles with Alain Prost in 1988; the iconic F1 GTR; the MP4/13 that took Mika Hakkinen to his maiden world championship in 1998; and Lewis Hamilton’s MP4-26, McLaren’s most aerodynamically-complex F1 car ever. The parade ended with Checo and Jenson entering stage left in an MP4 and a disguised P1 - the latter quickly wheeled away before prying eyes could get too close a look.
Scrof’s blog of earlier highlights the importance of racing teams like McLaren preserving their heritage, not only for their own commercial reasons but also to give historical context to those F1 fans who weren’t around for their glorious past. It seems that McLaren is planning to make a big deal about that past this year, so you can expect to hear much more about it in the coming months. With a heritage this good, that can only be something to look forward to.
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Mclaren are very aware and proud of their heritage, at least as much as Ferrari.
Half rubbish rather than total rubbish perhaps. I grew up watching Prost then Senna and loving that great British team McLaren. Didn't know anything about Bruce McLaren being a Kiwi until I asked a Kiwi friend why he was a McLaren fan. He soon corrected my ignorance / lack of knowledge and was most upset that I was unaware of Mr. McLaren's nationality.
Of course it may just be that I'm an uneducated, badly read, ignorant git but as a teenager I always assumed Mr. McLaren was a Brit, I never saw any general publicity to suggest otherwise...
Have just watched the link and I see them showing respect for their founder but nothing that suggests his "Kiwi" roots.
I'm not saying you are wrong and maybe McLaren very proudly acknowledge their "New Zealand" links (I am happy to be corrected) but I personally haven't seen any evidence of this and my friend seemed to be most upset that he has had to keep on explaining to Brits about McLaren's beginnings for most of his life... (Still serves him right for blathering on about the damn All Blacks all the time I suppose.... )
From my own experience, and that of my Mrs, also, those at Mclaren take pride in the heritage of the team and often speak of it. We are perhaps in the minority on here, though, as I'm a Kiwi and she a Brit. We both supported Mcl before we met, me, due to being a Kiwi and her due to Mcl being her 'local' F1 team (she lived near Guildford).
We have been joint members of the Bruce Mclaren Trust since 2003 and me some years prior. The F1 Team and indeed the company as a whole still maintains regular contact with Jan (Bruce's sister) and the Trust team.