Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
McLaren, founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren (1937-1970), is a racing team based in Woking, England, which is best known as a Formula One constructor but has also competed in the Indianapolis 500, Canadian-American Challenge Cup, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its full title is currently Team McLaren Mercedes; the team is managed by Ron Dennis and is controlled by McLaren Racing, a member of the McLaren Group. It is owned by Ron Dennis, Mansour Ojeh (of the TAG Heuer group).
Bruce McLaren, a New Zealander by birth, announced the formation of McLaren Motor Racing Ltd in 1963 because the team he raced for, Cooper Car Company, would not accept his engineering suggestions. He hired engineers and began building a car for competition in Formula One. Meanwhile McLaren employed several drivers and raced with them in Cooper T70s
As a team, McLaren had a disastrous beginning to the decade, with the death of team boss Bruce McLaren while testing the latest CanAm car at Goodwood. Despite this immense setback, they pulled together and achieved notable successes in several formulae, including CanAm, Formula 1, Formula 2, IndyCar and F5000.
McLaren decided to abandon the CanAm series at end of the 1972 season, focussing solely on Formula 1 and IndyCar. This decision turned out to be the right one: in 1974 they achieved their first Formula 1 World Constructors and World Drivers championship (with Emerson Fittipaldi) and their first Indy 500 win (with Johnny Rutherford). The Drivers Championship would come their way again in 1976 with James Hunt.
McLaren finally ended their IndyCar involvement at end of 1979 season after increasingly poor returns from the series.
The current McLaren F1 team resulted from a merger of the McLaren team and Ron Dennis's personal F1 team Project 4 in 1981. This had caused some confusion among fans of the sport, as all McLaren cars since 1981 have carried the designation "M/P4-xx." In this case the P4 comes from Project 4, and has no relation to the generation of chassis.
The most successful period in McLaren's history came under the early leadership of Ron Dennis. John Barnard designed the revolutionary M/P4-1 chassis, the first F1 chassis made entirely of carbon-fiber composites, which when mated to the TAG/Porsche turbo engine proved very strong. A succession of strong drivers helped, with Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg, and Stefan Johansson driving for the team in this period. McLaren-Porsche won the Constructors title in 1984 (with Lauda taking the Driver's crown), and 1985 (with Prost winning his first World Title), and Prost took the driver's title again in 1986.
After losing the previous two Constructors titles to Williams in 1986 and 1987, McLaren was able to convince Honda to switch its backing from Williams starting in 1988. The McLaren-Honda won an amazing 15 of 16 races that year, achieving the greatest winning percentage of a season in Formula One's modern history. (Senna had been leading comfortably at Monza, but collided with back-marker Jean-Louis Schlesser's Williams.) Ayrton Senna took the driver's title that season, his first with the Woking marque. The next year, using a new 3.5L atmospheric engine designed by Honda, McLaren again won both titles, Alain Prost clinching it in Japan after a highly-controversial collision with his teammate Senna. This was the culmination of a violent feud between the two men.
Alain Prost joined the Ferrari team in 1990. Nevertheless, McLaren continued to dominate Formula One for the next two seasons, Senna winning the WDC in 1990 and 1991, and McLaren taking the constructors title in both of those years, new teammate Gerhard Berger helping to ensure this double success.
From 1992 onwards, McLaren fell into a decline. After the thorough dominance of the Renault-powered Williams in 1992, Honda left Formula One. While the Ford engines proved suitable in the hands of Senna, American Michael Andretti was a disaster, scoring only a handful of points and was replaced before the end of the year by Finnish youngster Mika Häkkinen. In 1994, Senna departed for Williams, and perpetual journeyman Mark Blundell joined Hakkinen in new Peugeot-powered cars. The results were unimpressive, and Peugeot was dropped after a single year to bring on promising returners Mercedes-Benz. But 1995 was even worse than 1994, the radical M/P4-10 proving to be too heavy and slow, and former champion Nigel Mansell was too wide to fit into the car!
While Williams dominated F1 in 1996 and 1997, McLaren made slow, careful strides with its Mercedes engine and drivers Häkkinen and David Coulthard. With the temporary withdrawal of Renault at the end of 1997, McLaren was perfectly positioned to strike, Häkkinen taking the driver's title in 1998 and 1999, and McLaren the Constructors cup in 1998. 2000 was another closely-fought season, but ultimately Ferrari's Michael Schumacher prevailed, a position the German champion has yet to relinquish.
Since 2000, McLaren has struggled somewhat to regain its place at the top of Formula One. Mika Hakkinen's surprise 'sabbatical' (which turned into retirement) in 2002 opened the way for countryman Kimi Räikkönen to take his place. McLaren has only captured 6 wins since that date: a single win at Monaco in 2002 to Coulthard, two wins in 2003, one for Coulthard at Australia, and one for Räikkönen at Malaysia, and one win in 2004 at Belgium for Räikkönen. The team was severely hampered in 2003 by development of the M/P4-18, a radical new design which never raced in anger, forcing the team to use the year-old M/P4-17D, a very severe handicap in modern Formula One racing.
Its drivers for the 2004 season were David Coulthard and Kimi Räikkönen. The team began the year with the M/P4-19, what technical director Adrian Newey described as a "debugged version of the M/P4-18." This proved to be anything but the case and a new car was required by mid-season. The M/P4-19B was basically an all new car with a radically redesigned aerodynamic package. The fact that David Coulthard qualified third for its first race, the French Grand Prix, gave the team hope of a better end to the season.
- http://www.mclaren.com/ - official site
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