The McLaren MP4-18 was destined to be McLaren's racing car during the 2003 Formula One season. Following a disappointing season in 2002, which was mostly dominated by Ferrari's F2002, McLaren team principal Ron Dennis decided a radical approach was needed to get back to the front. However, due to several problems during tests, the car was never raced, in favour of the McLaren MP4-17D, a highly developed version of the 2002 contender. The new car crashed several times with very obscure reasons, failed the FIA side impact crash tests twice, and there was a severe problem cooling the engine down, since the sidepods were made very narrow.
During 2002, it became clear that the new car would have to be a big step forward, and not a simple evolution. Therefore, Arrows' chief designer Mike Coughlan was brought in to work with Newey on development of the brand new car, while another project was started to update the MP4-17 to race during the first races in 2003. Since the car was not driven in a race during 2003, McLaren decided to develop the MP4-18 into the MP4-19.
The McLaren MP4-19, which came out of developing the troublesome and never-raced MP4-18