Paris marks the first ever international motor show appearance for McLaren Automotive. That’s a pretty big deal, for a brand responsible for building one of the greatest cars in history, the F1.
For now, though, the P1 on display at the Paris Motor Show is just a design study, but McLaren plans to offer the production version within 12 months. “The McLaren P1 will be the result of 50 years of racing and road car heritage,” said McLaren Automotive Executive Chairman Ron Dennis. “Twenty years ago we raised the supercar performance bar with the McLaren F1 and our goal with the McLaren P1 is to redefine it once again.”
If that’s not a statement that excites you, you can stop reading now. The F1 is everything to the supercar designation. It is perfection, something not often—or ever—seen in the automotive world.
P1 is a motorsport term, referring to first position, and that is exactly where McLaren plans to position itself in comparison to every other possible competitor. No, the P1 isn’t mean to win the overall top speed battle, but it is built to be quickest on the track, outperforming everything. McLaren Automotive Managing Director Antony Sheriff said, “It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. Our goal is to make the McLaren P1 the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.”
Did someone say downforce? Hours upon hours were spent in the wind tunnel honing the aerodynamics to produced unrivaled figures. The P1 achieves over 1300 lbs of downforce well below maximum speed. That’s about five times as much as the MP4-12c, and far more than most other supercars available today. The P1’s downforce is actually closer to the MP4-12C GT3 racecar, except it’s completely road legal.
“It is designed to be driven to the racing circuit, with great levels of comfort and refinement,” says Sheriff. “And then to be used on the racing circuit, where it will offer an experience matched only by purpose-built race cars.”
This is what’s awesome about a car company utilizing direct knowledge from their Formula 1 achievements to build road cars. The P1 even includes Formula 1-like DRS (drag reduction system). The rear spoilers pitch changes when being driven flat out in a straight line, the maximize acceleration, reducing drag and then adjusts in time to bring the downforce back for braking and turning. In addition to the rear wing, there are also two flaps under the car in front of the front wheels, ranging in adjustment between 0 and 60 degrees. This thing is a fighter jet.
McLaren is no stranger to extensive use of carbon fiber. They were the first to have a full carbon body Grand Prix car (in 1981) and the first to offer a full carbon body road car (the F1). The P1 utilizes the same build dynamics of the F1 with a carbon fiber monocoque and mid-engine placement.
Among all of this, though the P1 is beautiful. It is a statement for design and achievement. Modernizing conceptual thoughts to provoke outright performance melded with groundbreaking technology and new-age philosophies. If you can’t tell yet, we are excited about this car.
With pedigree as strong as McLarens, their claims aren’t to be taken lightly, as the 12C was everything they said it’d be, the F1 was the pinnacle of performance and technology for its era and their racing career is more decorated than most.