McLaren MP4/1

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McLaren MP4
McLaren MP4B
McLaren MP4/1C
McLaren MP4/1E
McLaren MP4 (MP4/1), competed in the 1981 Formula One season
McLaren MP4 (MP4/1), competed in the 1981 Formula One season
Category Formula One
Constructor McLaren
Designer(s) John Barnard
Predecessor M30
Successor MP4/2
Technical specifications
Chassis Carbon fibre monocoque
Engine 1981-1983: mid-engine, longitudinally mounted, Cosworth DFY, 2,993 cc (182.6 cu in), NA, 90° V8
1983: mid-engine, longitudinally mounted, TAG-Porsche PO1, 1,499 cc (91.5 cu in), turbo, 90° V6,
Transmission McLaren / Hewland FGA 400 5-speed manual
Competition history
Notable entrants Marlboro McLaren International
Notable drivers 7. United Kingdom John Watson
8. Italy Andrea de Cesaris
8. Austria Niki Lauda
Debut 1981 Monaco Grand Prix
Races Wins Poles F.Laps
43 6 0 5
n.b. Unless otherwise stated, all data refer to
Formula One World Championship Grands Prix only.

The McLaren MP4/1 (initially known as the MP4) was a Formula One racing car produced by the McLaren team. It was used during the 1981, 1982 and 1983 seasons. It was the first Formula One car to use a carbon fibre composite monocoque, a concept which is now ubiquitous.

The MP4 was the first car to be built following the merger of the McLaren team and Ron Dennis' Project 4 team, as the car's name (short for "Marlboro Project 4")[1] indicates.

Design and construction[edit]

The main engineer for the MP4 was John Barnard. The chassis itself was built by McLaren using carbon supplied by Hercules Aerospace (U.S.A.) and quickly revolutionised car design in Formula One with new levels of rigidity and driver protection and its Carbon-Fibre-Composite (CFC) construction, a first in Formula One. Within months the design had been copied by many of McLaren's rivals.[2]

The car was originally powered by a 3.0 litre Ford-Cosworth V8 engine, but later switched to a 1.5 litre turbocharged TAG-Porsche V6 engine.

Hercules Aerospace keeps the car of Watson which was destroyed in the 1981 Italian Grand Prix and shows it off to visitors after allowing them to view footage of the accident, highlighting how it was possible for him to survive in a carbon fibre car.[3]

Racing[edit]

John Watson and Andrea de Cesaris drove the MP4/1 for most of the 1981 season with Niki Lauda replacing de Cesaris for the 1982 and 1983 seasons.

In 1982, the updated MP4B nearly brought Watson to the World Championship, but he finished third behind Keke Rosberg and Didier Pironi, with 39 points. In that same year however, it did take second in the Constructors' Championship, collecting 69 points.

For the 1983 season, the car was then updated into the MP4/1C, and the season started well with a 1–2 finish for the MP4/1C at Round 2 in Long Beach, in which Watson won from 22nd on the grid – the farthest back on the grid a driver has won from in Formula One – and Lauda finished second from 23rd despite suffering from a worsening leg cramp. This car was used throughout most of the season.

During the 1983 season, McLaren worked with Techniques d'Avant Garde and Porsche to develop a turbocharged V6 engine and the MP4/1D was the test mule.

Later in the season at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort the Cosworth-powered MP4/1C was replaced by the TAG-powered MP4/1E, which was essentially also a test mule that competed in only 4 races; according to Watson in an interview given in 2009 this was a car that was forced into appearing at the Dutch Grand Prix by some very risky political manuvering by Lauda. He went to the Marlboro executive Aleardo Buzzi (the man responsible for giving McLaren their primary sponsorship money), behind the back of the entire McLaren team and complained extensively to Buzzi about the uncompetitiveness of the team without a turbo engine, and then Buzzi took back the money that was initially given to McLaren to develop the TAG/Porsche turbo engine, which Lauda wanted to do himself with race testing. This infuriated Dennis and designer John Barnard- who had designed the MP4/2 just for the new turbo-charged engine, now had to re-design his MP4/1 to "E" spec just for the TAG engine. The MP4/1E was first driven by Watson, not Lauda- at the Porsche proving ground was competitive, but the new engine was, thanks to Lauda's political maneuvering, underdeveloped and had teething troubles, which expectedly made it very unreliable, and did not win any races. But this car was not really expected to win or even finish races. [4]

In total, the MP4/1 brought McLaren 6 wins, 11 other podium finishes and a total of 131 points.

BBC commentator Murray Walker drove the MP4/1C at Silverstone in 1983.[5]


Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
1981 Marlboro McLaren International MP4 Cosworth DFV
V8 NA
M USW BRA ARG SMR BEL MON ESP FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN CPL 28 6th
John Watson Ret 10 7 Ret 3 2 1 6 6 Ret Ret 2 7
Andrea de Cesaris Ret Ret 11 Ret Ret 8 DNS 7 Ret 12
1982 Marlboro McLaren International MP4B Cosworth DFV
V8 NA
M RSA BRA USW SMR BEL MON DET CAN NED GBR FRA GER AUT SUI ITA CPL 69 2nd
John Watson 6 2 6 1 Ret 1 3 9 Ret Ret Ret 9 13 4 2
Niki Lauda 4 Ret 1 DSQ Ret Ret Ret 4 1 8 DNS 5 3 Ret Ret
1983 Marlboro McLaren International MP4/1C Cosworth DFV
V8 NA
M BRA USW FRA SMR MON BEL DET CAN GBR GER AUT NED ITA EUR RSA 34 5th
John Watson Ret 1 Ret 5 DNQ Ret 3 6 9 5 9 3
Niki Lauda 3 2 Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret Ret 6 DSQ 6
Stefan Bellof WD
MP4/1E TAG Porsche
V6 tc
John Watson Ret Ret DSQ 0 NC
Niki Lauda Ret Ret Ret 11

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nye, Doug (1984). McLaren the Grand Prix, Can-Am and Indy Cars. Hazleton Publishing. p. 222. ISBN 0-905138-28-7. 
  2. ^ Sheehan, Michael (March 2012). "Ferrari's 65-Year Race to Save Weight". Sports Car Market. 3 24: 44–45. 
  3. ^ Motorsport, March 1999
  4. ^ http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/novembers-audio-podcast-with-john-watson/
  5. ^ Formula1Arab (2011-06-06). "Murray Walker : Life In The Fast Lane | Part 2/4". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-12-06.