McLaren

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Team principal:

Ron Dennis, Teddy Mayer, Andreas Seidl, Andrea Stella

Technical director:

Peter Podromou

Place of business:

Woking, United Kingdom

The existence of McLaren F1 revolves around metamorphoses. The team was born in 1963 as the brainchild of Bruce McLaren, the legendary New Zealand driver whose surname it still bears.

Although Bruce McLaren himself was already a Formula 1 driver, the adventure with his own team began in sports cars. It wasn’t until 1966 that McLaren made its Formula 1 debut, and it did so during the king’s number of the royal class: in Monaco. He didn’t finish the race, but every beginning is difficult. Together with partner Teddy Mayer, Bruce McLaren laid the foundation for the team in Feltham, Britain.

Early Misfortune Strikes McLaren

McLaren steadily developed in the following years. In 1968, Bruce himself won the first race for the team, in Belgium. Together with compatriot Denny Hulme, they even secured second place in the constructors’ championship. The first drivers’ and constructors’ title followed in 1974, with Emerson Fittipaldi, but Bruce McLaren did not live to see it. He died in 1970 at the young age of 32 in a crash during a test with a McLaren sports car. The second title followed in 1976 with James Hunt, after a battle with Niki Lauda and Ferrari that was worthy of a Hollywood film. This resulted in the highly acclaimed film, Rush.

Ron Dennis: From Mechanic to Team Owner

When McLaren fails to secure top prizes, the team undergoes a transformation. Ron Dennis, who has worked his way up from mechanic to owner of the Formula 2 team and constructor Project Four, steps in. In 1980, he collaborates with Teddy Mayer, leading to a merger in 1981. Dennis is a perfectionist: all desks must be tidy and every shirt must have a crease. Even the gravel on his driveway is reportedly washed. But his pursuit of perfection pays off, especially since Dennis brings design guru John Barnard to the new factory in Woking. Here, the successful machines will soon roll off the production line.

Internal Struggle at McLaren

An internal struggle between McLaren drivers Niki Lauda and Alain Prost results in the former winning the title in 1984 by a half-point margin. A year later, the roles are reversed and Prost repeats his victory in ’86. The Frenchman considers himself the man within McLaren, until Dennis signs Brazilian super talent Ayrton Senna in 1988. It doesn’t take long for the driver from São Paulo to become the favorite of engine manufacturer Honda – and Dennis’s new darling.

A Bitter Battle

In his first year with McLaren, Senna defeats Prost after a bitter battle. The MP4/4 of 1988 meanwhile becomes one of Formula 1’s most iconic cars. It’s good for fifteen victories in sixteen races, and is naturally also dressed in the iconic red and white of Marlboro. A year later, the roles are reversed. When Prost moves to Ferrari in 1990, Senna and he still vie for supremacy. The climax is as controversial as in 1989. Senna deliberately knocks Prost out of the race at the start of the finale in Suzuka. His excuse, which has since become a racing maxim? ‘If you no longer go for a gap, you are no longer a racing driver’.

The Mercedes Era

Despite Senna and McLaren’s continued victories, a downward trend had begun. Williams, in partnership with Renault, was producing superior cars and operating on a different technical level. When Honda withdrew, McLaren faced a barren period, even enduring several winless years until they struck a deal with Mercedes in 1995. This marked the beginning of a new transformation, with McLaren and Mercedes collaborating more closely, adopting a more corporate identity and corresponding silver-grey cars. However, sporting success had to wait until the arrival of Adrian Newey from Williams, who designed McLaren’s title-winning cars for 1998 and 1999.

Despite this, the Mercedes years were largely limited in terms of major prizes. The arrival of Fernando Alonso and newcomer Lewis Hamilton in 2007 was intended to inject new energy into the team. However, it ended in disaster. Alonso and Hamilton clashed, and McLaren became embroiled in a spying scandal (Spygate) involving stolen data from Ferrari. To add insult to injury, Kimi Räikkönen, who had ironically moved to Scuderia, won the title in the final race, one point ahead of Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton did redeem himself the following year by winning his first championship.

The Papaya Brigade

When Mercedes decided to start their own team in 2010, McLaren went through several near-miss seasons. Between 2015 and 2017, they entered a new relationship with old flame Honda, but this was a complete failure, as was a renewed collaboration with Alonso. After a palace revolution, Dennis, who had also been busy with McLaren’s sports car division, was ousted in 2016. Zak Brown and team boss Andreas Seidl were the new spearheads. With a Mercedes customer engine in the back, a new wind tunnel under construction, and a fresh, young face in Lando Norris as a driver, they were tasked with making this latest transformation a success. However, in December 2022, it was announced that Seidl was leaving McLaren for Sauber, which would later be taken over by Audi. At McLaren, Seidl was succeeded as team boss by Italian engineer Andrea Stella. He faces a significant challenge in realizing McLaren’s high ambitions.

The year 2023 started off quite challenging for the team, but gradually, the tide seems to be turning in McLaren’s sixtieth year of existence. From the Grand Prix of Great Britain, the orange papaya brigade even begins to fight for podium places. Debutant Oscar Piastri also takes flight, showing he’s cut from the right racing cloth. Is he the new super talent McLaren was hoping for when they snatched him from Alpine?

McLaren’s Team Composition

Team Boss Andrea Stella
Technical Director Peter Podromou
Test Driver 2024 Pato O’Ward
Alex Palou
Ryo Hirakawa
Headquarters Woking
GP Debut GP Monaco 1966
Driver Titles 12 (1974, 1976, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2008)
Constructor Titles 8 (1974, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998)
Final Standings 2023 4
Drivers
Lando Norris #4
Nationality British
Birthdate 13-11-1999
GP Debut Australia 2019
World Titles None
Final Standings 2023 6
Oscar Piastri #81
Nationality Australian
Birthdate 6-4-2001
GP Debut Bahrain 2023
World Titles None
Final Standings 2023 9
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