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
CategoryFormula One
ConstructorMcLaren
Designer(s)John Barnard
PredecessorM30
SuccessorMP4/2
Technical specifications
ChassisCarbon fibre monocoque
Engine1981-1983: 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,
TransmissionMcLaren / Hewland FGA 400 5-speed manual
Competition history
Notable entrantsMarlboro McLaren International
Notable drivers7. United Kingdom John Watson
8. Italy Andrea de Cesaris
8. Austria Niki Lauda
Debut1981 Monaco Grand Prix
RacesWinsPolesF.Laps
43605
n.b. Unless otherwise stated, all data refer to
Formula One World Championship Grands Prix only.
 
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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
CategoryFormula One
ConstructorMcLaren
Designer(s)John Barnard
PredecessorM30
SuccessorMP4/2
Technical specifications
ChassisCarbon fibre monocoque
Engine1981-1983: 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,
TransmissionMcLaren / Hewland FGA 400 5-speed manual
Competition history
Notable entrantsMarlboro McLaren International
Notable drivers7. United Kingdom John Watson
8. Italy Andrea de Cesaris
8. Austria Niki Lauda
Debut1981 Monaco Grand Prix
RacesWinsPolesF.Laps
43605
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 maneuvering 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)

YearEntrantChassisEngineTyresDrivers12345678910111213141516PointsWCC
1981Marlboro McLaren InternationalMP4Cosworth DFV
V8 NA
MUSWBRAARGSMRBELMONESPFRAGBRGERAUTNEDITACANCPL286th
John WatsonRet107Ret32166RetRet27
Andrea de CesarisRetRet11RetRet8DNS7Ret12
1982Marlboro McLaren InternationalMP4BCosworth DFV
V8 NA
MRSABRAUSWSMRBELMONDETCANNEDGBRFRAGERAUTSUIITACPL692nd
John Watson6261Ret139RetRetRet91342
Niki Lauda4Ret1DSQRetRetRet418DNS53RetRet
1983Marlboro McLaren InternationalMP4/1CCosworth DFV
V8 NA
MBRAUSWFRASMRMONBELDETCANGBRGERAUTNEDITAEURRSA345th
John WatsonRet1Ret5DNQRet369593
Niki Lauda32RetRetDNQRetRetRet6DSQ6
Stefan BellofWD
MP4/1ETAG Porsche
V6 tc
John WatsonRetRetDSQ0NC
Niki LaudaRetRetRet11

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.