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What Makes McLaren Special

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Founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren, the Formula 1 team have seen race victories, to Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships. And after their recent successes, I want to take a brief look at the history behind this infamous team.

The second oldest active team in Formula 1 have won 182 races, achieved 155 pole positions, won 12 Drivers’ Championships and 8 Constructors’ Championships, with some of the biggest names and successes in the sport leading them to victory – James Hunt, Niki Lauda, and Ayrton Senna are just to name a few!

So let’s take a look at their successes through the decades.

Beginnings

New Zealand born racer, car designer and inventor, Bruce McLaren, founded the team in 1963 and debuted in Formula 1 with The McLaren M2B at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1966. The Kiwi driver was then able to bring home the team’s first victory in 1968 at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Credit: Formula1.com 

Alongside Formula 1, McLaren joined a new series, Can-Am, which started in 1966, where his domination in the sport saw him winning the championship in 1967 and consecutively for the following four years. But sadly, in 1970 Bruce McLaren was killed whilst testing their new car, the M8D, at the Goodwood Circuit, UK. But his legacy would live on forever and the team continued to see success for years to come.

1970’s

After the death of Bruce McLaren, American motor racing entrepreneur Teddy Mayer, took over the reigns of the team and in 1974 McLaren won their first Constuctors’ Championship alongside the Brazilian driver Emerson Fittipaldi winning the Drivers’ Championship.

1976 saw the epic showdown for the championship with maverick James Hunt and Ferrari’s Niki Lauda. Lauda’s terrifying crash in Germany allowed Hunt to capitalise from his absence and ended with Hunt winning the championship just one point ahead of the Austrian driver.

1980’s

At the beginning of the decade, McLaren merged with Ron Dennis’ Project Formula Two team and became the first company to introduce a complete carbon fibre racing monocoque from designer John Barnard, revolutionising the sport. This led to the team’s dominance and most successful period in Formula 1, with Dennis taking control of the team.

The 1984 season highlighted McLaren’s successes with the Austrian Niki Lauda, and French racing driver Alain Prost winning 12 out of the 16 races that season. Winning by only half a point, Lauda won his third Driver’s Championship title.

Alain Prost was then able to win back-to-back championships in 1985-86, becoming the first Frenchman to win the Formula 1 World Championships.

Credit: Formula1.com

Ayrton Senna joined the infamous red and white livery team in 1988, which culminated in his fierce rivalry with fellow teammate and then double-world champion Alain Prost, leading to many dramatic race incidents between the two over the following five years. Nevertheless, this season saw Senna race to victory to claim the championship.

1990’s

The beginning of the decade continued to see Senna’s dominance in the sport, winning a further two championships for the team before departing to Williams in 1994.

After Senna’s departure and McLaren’s engine supplier, Honda’s withdrawal from the sport, this led to a period of limited success. But towards the end of 90’s, the team got their groove back and with the help of Mika Häkkinen, McLaren went on to win the 1998 and 1999 championship titles.

2000-Present Day

Credit: Formula1.com

McLaren’s last driver to take the championship was Lewis Hamilton back in 2008, claiming his first out of his seven World Championships (and potentially counting), becoming the youngest driver to have won a World Championship and the first British driver to have won since Damon Hill in 1996 for Williams.

After Hamilton’s departure to Mercedes, the team unfortunately relegated to the mid-pack, with 2013 being one of their worst seasons by not being able to compete with some of the top teams, and fight for podiums unlike previous years.

Yet after a difficult few years, with a team that was in crisis are now oozing with confidence, and showing the leaps and bounds they are achieving and returning to their iconic papaya livery in 2018. Most recently Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz brought P3 in the Constructors’ Championship in 2020 for McLaren, the best since 2009. And with this year’s new Mercedes engine and driver lineup – Lando Norris’s third season in the sport and the team, achieving his second podium at Imola last weekend, along with the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo, multiple race-winner and podium sitter – the fight for third in the championship is very much on.

I myself cannot wait to see what the future holds for this team, and will be with them every step of the way!

 

Headline Image Credit: The McLaren F1 Road Car

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