Record-breaking, breathtaking McLaren P1
Even 20 years after it first appeared, the McLaren F1 still looks ahead of its time. The McLaren P1 is every inch its rightful successor. While headline writers loved the fact that the McLaren F1 was the fastest production car in the world with record 240.1mph, its greatest legacy was its technical innovation. It was the first road car to be built around a carbon fibre tub, a technology pioneered by McLaren in Formula 1, and one that lies at the heart of all of our current models.
The McLaren F1 also used its hand-built V12 engine as a stressed component, had a unique central driving position, and the design team’s quest for lightweight perfection was such that gold foil was used in its engine bay to reflect heat.
You won’t find any needless ornaments or frivolous styling features on the P1. Every surface has been designed to work, every part given the same aerodynamic consideration as if it was part of an aircraft or a Formula 1 car. The bodywork is "shrink-wrapped" as tightly as possible and the cockpit sits right at the centre. This approach helps to reduce frontal surface area and makes it easier to manage airflow over the surface and into the engine’s roof intake and to the active aero components.
Good wasn’t good enough for the McLaren P1, which is why the company produced special lightweight seats with ultra-thin carbon fibre shells. Despite their low-mass construction, they are supremely strong, yet comfortable for longer journeys. Their backs are fixed at an optimum 28-degree angle (although 32 degrees can be specified to increase helmet space). The finished seats weigh just 10.5kg each. Carbon fibre doesn’t just save weight, it can also be beautiful – a point proved by the immaculately trimmed interior.
The carbon and Alcantara steering wheel has been ergonomically designed, with buttons for the DRS and IPAS systems positioned within easy reach. Instrumentation is displayed on three TFT screens with four switchable modes.
The mid-mounted twin-turbo V8 engine is derived from the one fitted to the 12C, but with numerous and significant differences. A unique block casting is used to incorporate the IPAS electric motor, and the use of new larger high-pressure turbochargers. By itself, the V8 produces an already astonishing 737PS, but it has been designed to work in conjunction with the electric motor, which gives seamless performance and takes the powertrain’s combined output to a dizzying 916PS. ■
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