F1 – Buttoned up, or down and out, for Jenson?

After a fairly dull and dismal Italian Grand Prix on track, the only major talking point from the weekend was McLaren’s 2017 driver lineup. Does it mean things are all over for JB?2016 Jenson ButtonIt’s a classic McLaren piece of stage management. Stoffel Vandoorne joins Fernando Alonso as the two race drivers for 2017, whilst Buttons retains an “ambassadorial” role within the McLaren universe. It means the team have an option should a) Vandoorne somehow prove to be useless, or b) Fernando Alonso decide he can’t be bothered with the same crap anymore. It also means the firm retains the ability to milk Jenson’s marketing appeal. No doubt there’ll be numerous videos of him drifting McLaren road cars and other race cars over the next twelve months.

2016 Jenson Button

Expect more of this in the next year.

McLaren are no stranger to having drivers take a sabbatical. Mika Häkkinen famously took one for the 2002 season which, curiously, was also announced just before the 2001 Italian Grand Prix. After being World Drivers’ Champion in 1998 and 1999, along with finishing as runner-up in 2000, Häkkinen has suffered a challenging 2001. With the desire to win having faded, and fear from big crashes lingering, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Häkkinen officially announced his retirement from Formula 1 in 2002, at the relatively young age of only 33. (more…)

New – McLaren 570GT joins Sports Series

After an emphasis on outright performance, McLaren turns to the idea of luxury and refinement with the latest addition to the Sports Series of cars.

2016 McLaren 570GTJoining the 570S and 540C Coupe, the third model in the entry-level Sports Series makes a number of detailed changes to increase everyday usability. Whilst the concept of a 562 bhp supercar being practical and easy to use might seem an oxymoron, rivals like the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo proves demand exists in the marketplace.

2016 McLaren 570GTThe 570GT isn’t just an exercise in fitting softer suspension or extra sound deadening, although both of those changes are included in the transformation. There are far more substantial changes, such as the redesigned rear windscreen that replaces the flying buttresses of the 570S with a side opening rear hatch. So, technically, the 570GT is an extremely hot hatchback… (more…)

Another New McLaren – The McLaren 540C Coupé in Shanghai

It doesn’t seem five minutes since McLaren revealed the first member of its entry-level road car family with the 570S. A few weeks later and we’ve got the actual cheapest model in the Sports Series – the 540C – shown off at the Shanghai Auto Show. 

2015 McLaren Sports Series 540C

Unless McLaren decides to wedge an even cheaper model into the Sports Series lineup, this will be the least expensive way to get behind the wheel of a performance car from Woking. Although give it a couple more weeks and you can probably expect to pick up a McLaren-Honda MP4-30 F1 car for around £20. But until then you’ll need £126,000 for the babiest-Mc.

Entry-level doesn’t mean basic, however. Using the same 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 as the 570S – and other McLarens – the 540C produces a predictable 540 PS. So that’s 533 bhp in real money combined with 398 lb-ft of torque, meaning a 30 bhp and 40 lb-ft deficit to the 570S. Performance is reduced, ever so slightly, with a 0.3 second slower 0-62 mph time of 3.5 seconds, and a top speed of 199 mph that falls 5 mph short of the more powerful car.

2015 McLaren Sports Series 540C

A McLaren that isn’t orange!

How much that matters to you may dictate if you really want to pay an extra £17,500 for the 570S – equivalent to £583 for each additional horsepower. Fuel economy and C02 emissions are no different whatever state of tune you take the 3.8 litre engine in, staying at 25.5 mpg and 258g/km respectively. You’ll also get the same adaptive dampers, including a sport mode, but with settings revised to make the 540C more useable everyday. (more…)

Updated – The New McLaren 570S Coupe

Adding to their ever-growing ranks of orange coloured supercars is this latest offering from McLaren – the 570S Coupe. Unveiled at the New York Motor Auto Show today, the 570S is the entry model to McLaren’s road car roster. So, is it more Fifth Avenue than the Bronx for the baby Mac?

2015 McLaren 570S 01

Let’s cut to the chase – ‘entry level’ in this segment is still pretty serious when it comes to power and performance. So this Sports Series car, which sits below the Super Series (650S) and Ultimate Series (P1) is rather potent. Using the familiar twin-turbocharged 3.8 litre V8 engine, the 570S makes – the clue is in the name – 570PS (562bhp). That’s along with 443lb-ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of just 3.2 seconds. Top speed is 204mph – not quite so junior!

Transferring that power the short distance from the mid-mounted engine to the rear-wheels is a seven-speed ‘SSG’ paddle shift gearbox. Braking is via standard carbon-ceramic brakes, which hide behind 19″ front and 20″ rear wheels. It’s not just the brakes which are made of carbon, as the lightweight Monocell II chassis is made from carbon fibre too. Weighing only 80kg, it helps the 570S achieve an overall dry weight of just 1,313kg – if you tick the right options.

2015 McLaren 570S 004

Rear deck has vents to ‘evacuate heat’ from the engine bay. So, they’re cooling vents to the rest of us.

Such low weight means the 570S achieves some very non-supercar like fuel economy figures. The official combined 25.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 258g/km are pretty impressive for a 560bhp machine. It’s the same as what the Mk5 VW Golf R32


Friday Photo – McLaren P1 GTR and McLaren F1 GTR

Compared to Ferrari, Lamborghini, or even Porsche, it’s easy to accuse McLaren of lacking a little bit of soul and passion at times. Their technical, logical, approach to road – and race – cars often leaves us a little cold. But, with the latest addition to the P1 stable, McLaren is trying to inject some passion with reference to a famous Le Mans racer.

2015 McLaren P1 GTR + 1995 McLaren F1 GTR 001This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of the McLaren F1’s racing debut in the 1995 BPR Global GT Series. This was after the F1’s creator, Gordon Murray, had finally given in to the pressure to allow the car to become a racer, despite his insistence it should be a road car only. Despite his apprehensions, the F1 GTR dominated the two short years for which the BPR Series existed; winning the championship both times. 1995 was more special, however, as the F1 also took an impressive win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with McLarens filling four of the top five positions.

2015 McLaren P1 GTR + 1995 McLaren F1 GTR 002At this point, we should note that the colour scheme being used on the new P1 GTR obviously does mimic one of the F1s from that Le Mans success in ’95. Just not the winning one – that was predominantly black/grey, featuring sponsorship from a Japanese plastic surgery clinic. Seriously, we’re not kidding! Instead, the yellow and green Harrods sponsored car took third place, piloted by legendary drivers Andy Wallace, Derek Bell, and his son Justin. The choice of the last podium placing car makes a bit more sense now.

But, less Japanese cosmetics, and more new crazy powered hyper car. The standard P1 is already insanely fast, but McLaren has decided the world needs a track only version. To get one, you’ll need to join McLaren’s P1 Driver Programme – an exclusive club, which can only be likened to the Ferrari Client Test Driver idea. Essentially, lots and lots of money, plus many previous purchases might get you in.

2015 McLaren P1 GTR 01At only 50 kgs lighter than the regular P1, the GTR has hardly been on a crash diet. However, the roof panels and engine cover are now carbon fibre instead of glass, and there’s the addition of a perspex side windows and a titanium exhaust system. More obvious is the giant fixed rear wing in place of the usual adjustable version on the normal P1. Various extra aerodynamic additions help the P1 GTR cut through the air more effectively, and generate 10% more downforce than the road car. (more…)

2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – McLaren P1 and 650S

Are you a British based car manufacturer? Do you have a “Spec Ops” division to crank out exclusively modified stuff? No? Then you’re clearly not trying hard enough. Regardless, McLaren Automotive will be making a big effort to demonstrate the work of its McLaren Special Operations team at the forthcoming Pebble Beach Automotive Week.

Pebble Beach is actually somewhat fitting for McLaren, as it is where the company launched its MSO department at the 2011 show, with a Volcano Orange MP4-12C. So for 2014, MSO has rolled out not one, but two special customised – probably should be customized on this occasion – McLaren products. 2014 Pebble Beach McLaren P1 005 First up is a unique example of the P1 hyper-car, ordered by a North American customer in this bespoke specification. Stirling Grey paintwork is matched with bare carbon fibre and a host of McLaren Orange coloured details, including brake calipers, badges and even the struts that support the rear wing. Inspired by the original McLaren F1, the engine bay is lined in 24 carat gold heatshields – you can see it surrounding the exhaust tailpipe too – with more bare carbon used on the rear bumper and diffuser.

All that glitters is probably gold.

All that glitters is probably gold.

Internally there’s a riot of carbon fibre and Alcantara, with virtually every surface finished in one of those two materials. The only exceptions being the McLaren Orange highlighting on various bits of switchgear, and the custom satin Nickel trim used on the air vents; a nod to the same material used on the exhaust system. (more…)

Friday Photo – McLaren 650S

After the madness of the P1 comes the next road car from Woking, set to sit above the MP4-12C in both price and performance.

McLaren 650S 001

Ahead of the full launch at the Geneva Motor Show next week, McLaren has now confirmed the details of its latest supercar the 650S. Making use of the same basic carbon fibre chassis and twin-turbo 3.8 litre V8 as the MP4-12C, the 650S gains styling details taken from the P1 hyper car. That V8 engine has its power increased to 650 PS (hence the name) and 500 lb-ft of torque, which is quite something in a car that has a dry weight of only 1,199 kgs! (more…)

McLaren P1 – Just How Fast Is It?

With the first car rolling off the swanky McLaren Production Centre assembly line, the Woking firm have finally revealed the Big Mac’s performance figures. As we’re sure you’ll agree, they’re pretty staggering.

McLaren P1 001

So, let’s get the headline grabbing figures out-of-the-way first:

  • 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds,
  • Top speed of 217 mph (350 km/h) – electronically limited,
  • 34.0 mpg on EU Combined cycle,
  • 194 g/km CO2.

Now read those first two statistics, and then compare them again to the second two. We’re talking about a hypercar that will hit 60 mph in under three seconds, yet can (technically) achieve fuel consumption no worse than a regular hot hatch! The P1’s eco-credibility doesn’t stop there; the electric motor enables the car to run for up to almost 7 miles on battery power alone, generating zero CO2 emissions when doing so. (more…)

Friday Photo from the archives #9

Ok, it’s another FFFA which isn’t actually a photo, but a video. But, in our defence, it is quite a special video.

We mentioned in yesterday’s post about F1-inspired road cars about the importance of the link between Ayrton Senna and Honda. That link is obviously, still, of importance to Honda to this day as their Japanese marketing department has just released this advert:

I cannot begin to comprehend the expense which must have gone into it, or what was going through the mind of the person who came up with the concept. However, if adverts are meant to be emotive, then this one succeeds on a truly grand scale. I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t leave you with the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.

2013 Australian Grand Prix – The Review (featuring Senna)

The first race of the Formula 1 season is always a strange one, not least because for European viewers it happens ridiculously early on a Sunday morning. F1’s opening night tends to showcase who has potential for the year ahead and, more importantly, who has more work to do back at the factory. 2013’s edition was no exception, although the unexpected weather and split qualifying sessions meant Australia was possibly not the truest representation of where things currently lie.

The EngageSportMode team made a concerted effort to stay up and watch the rescheduled late-night qualifying session and the race itself live. Getting up at 6am is tough on the best of days, but a Sunday just seems to make it several times harder. Senna, ESM’s F1 canine correspondent, was dragged from her bed and made to watch also. Afterwards she spent the day chewing sticks, sleeping, and rolling in badger crap. But in between all that we managed to get her opinion on who performed best and worst Down Under.

Red Bull
Qualifying: Vettel – 1st, Webber – 2nd
Race: Vettel – 3rd, Webber – 6th

A front-row lock out should have yielded better results than this. Another awful start by Webber ruined his chances in the race. Vettel tried hard, but the car seemed to be struggling with tyres in the colder than expected condition. Sebastian still looks to be the man to beat, and you can guarantee he’ll be fired up for Malaysia.
Senna’s view: I could get an F1 car off the line better than Webber, and I don’t even have hands to hold the clutch paddle!

Qualifying: Alonso – 5th, Massa – 4th
Race: Alonso – 2nd, Massa – 4th

After the surprise of Felipe Massa outqualifying Fernando Alonso, the sardonic Spaniard looked deeply unimpressed at the end of Q3. Predictably it was Alonso who outshone Massa in the race, but the Brazilian’s form looks impressive even if he did fade later on. Fernando leapfrogged Vettel during the second round of pit stops and was able to build an effective barrier between himself and the Red Bull, securing second place.
Senna’s view: Still don’t like Alonso, or his eyebrows, but that Ferrari looks to be a contender already.

Qualifying: Button – 10th, Perez – 15th
Race: Button – 9th, Perez – 11th
Oh dear. Despite having the strongest car at the end of the 2012 season, McLaren seems to have entered 2013 by completely forgetting everything they learnt in the closing stages of last year. Both drivers consistently struggled for pace in both qualifying and the race. The team made a colossal error to send Button and Perez out on slicks in Q2, and then furthered it by keeping the Mexican on them, thus destroying his qualifying. In the actual race things failed to improve, with Button scraping into the points and both cars not hugely far off being lapped.
Senna’s view: Somebody needs to be fired, probably Martin Whitmarsh.

Qualifying: Raikkonen – 7th, Grosjean – 8th
Race: Raikkonen – 1st, Grosjean – 10th

I don’t think anyone really saw this result coming. An average qualifying session transpired into an epic victory for the Iceman, thanks to some superb strategy from the Enstone team. Only needing to stop twice, compared to other’s three stop strategies gave Kimi a compounding advantage, and the first win of 2013. Grosjean had a quiet race which, let’s be honest, is a good thing by his standards.
Senna’s view: Kimi is the only driver I’ve ever seen drink the champagne before spraying it! (more…)