McLaren P1 hypercar celebrates half a decade in pole position

McLaren P1 hypercar celebrates half a decade in pole position

McLaren P1 hypercar celebrates half a decade in pole position

  • Five years since McLaren P1™ previewed as a design study at the ‘Mondial de l’Automobile’ in Paris in 2012, ahead of production debut at 2013 Geneva International Motor Show
  • First Ultimate Series McLaren, built to be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track
  • Production run of 375 cars all hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, UK, the last of them in December 2015
  • Ground-breaking carbon fibre construction; advanced, Formula 1-style aerodynamics and pioneering high-performance hybrid powertrain technologies

The McLaren P1™ was conceived with one simple but extremely demanding aim: to be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track. As the spiritual successor to the McLaren F1 road car of the 1990s – still widely considered to be one of the greatest supercars of all time – the McLaren P1™ had to redefine not only what McLaren was capable of, but also raise the bar for the supercar world.

Five years ago, at 1745hrs BST on Thursday September 27, the car built to achieve this ambition was unveiled as a design study at the 2012 ‘Mondial de l’Automobile’ in Paris. Five months later, the production version debuted at the 2013 Geneva International Motor Show.

Leveraging five decades of McLaren motorsport experience and its deep knowledge of road car engineering, the McLaren P1™ represented both the birth of the McLaren Ultimate Series and a quantum leap in technology that delivered previously unknown levels of performance in a road car.

“The McLaren P1™ is the most exciting, capable and dynamically accomplished supercar ever and a showcase for McLaren’s innovation and technology. Absolute top speed was never the priority; we set out to develop a car that could be driven to a racing circuit and at the press of a button be the fastest-ever series production car on the track, which is a much more important technical statement and of far greater relevance to on-road driving.” – Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive

McLaren P1 hypercar celebrates half a decade in pole position

Sell-out success

The full production run of 375 cars was sold and allocated before the first was even delivered, such was the insatiable demand for the McLaren P1™. No two examples of the McLaren P1™ were the same; each was custom-built to owner-specification in consultation with McLaren Special Operations (MSO). The cost of MSO features was additional to the £866,000 price of the car.

Outstanding aerodynamics

Aerodynamic performance was prioritised from the outset of the McLaren P1™’s development. Using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) aerodynamic modelling and wind tunnel testing, McLaren designers engineered a car that produces an astonishing 600kg of downforce at well below its electronically limited maximum speed of 217mph (350km/h).

A Formula 1-style DRS (drag reduction system) helps to achieve the downforce, with the pitch of the rear wing changing to reduce drag and increase straight-line speed. The wing can also operate at an even steeper angle, to maintain aerodynamic balance under braking.

In addition to the active, adjustable rear wing, the aerodynamic performance of the McLaren P1™ is optimised using two flaps mounted under the body, ahead of the front wheels. The flaps change angle automatically to increase downforce and aero efficiency, boosting driver confidence as well as speed.

Dedication to reducing weight

Optimising weight while ensuring maximum strength and rigidity was a development imperative for the McLaren P1™ and is reflected in every aspect of the design. The dry weight of the car is just 1,395kg (3,075lbs).

The McLaren P1™ is based around a McLaren MonoCage, a carbon fibre structure that weighs just 90kg yet provides outstanding rigidity and safety while also guiding air into the car’s engine through an integral roof ‘snorkel’ and air intake ducts.

To keep weight down, all five main body panels that comprise the McLaren P1™ are made from carbon fibre. A further 1.5kg was saved by omitting the top layer of resin from interior carbon fibre components. The fixed-back, carbon fibre-shelled race seats weigh just 10.5kg each.

Super-lightweight glass for both roof and windscreen – respectively just 2.4mm and 3.2mm thick – saves 3.5kg over conventional glass. The lightweight brakes are 4kg lighter than a comparable ‘standard’ braking system.

The focus on weight was such that the original specification of the McLaren P1™ did not feature sound-deadening material or even carpet in the cabin.

McLaren P1 hypercar celebrates half a decade in pole position

Extreme hybrid performance

The hybrid, petrol-electric powertrain of the McLaren P1™ set new standards for innovation and performance when the car was introduced. A modified version of McLaren’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, tuned to develop 737PS (727bhp) combined with a lightweight electric motor producing 179PS (176 bhp) – more than double the power of the KERS unit used in Formula 1 at the time – to give the McLaren P1™ astonishing performance.

Together, the petrol engine and electric motor produced 916PS (903bhp), resulting in acceleration of 0-100km/h (62mph) in 2.8 seconds; 0-200km/h (124mph) in 6.8 seconds and 0-300km/h (186mph) in 16.5 seconds – a full five seconds quicker than the legendary McLaren F1.

The instant response of the electric motor provides sharper throttle response more usually associated with a normally aspirated petrol engine. It also helps to deliver quicker upshifts by applying negative torque to allow engine revs to fall more rapidly. When off-throttle and under deceleration, energy that would have otherwise been lost is recovered to the battery by the motor.

The battery weighs just 96kg and is mounted low down, inside the carbon fibre MonoCage. The McLaren P1™ can drive solely on its electric motor for up to 10km (6 miles) on the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle), allowing the car to be used in low emission zones and for urban driving with near-silent running. McLaren P1™ CO2 emissions overall are just 194g/km.

“The McLaren P1™ was designed to be the best driver’s car in the world and epitomises the pioneering spirit, innovation and driving excitement that is McLaren. A hybrid powertrain was key to its success and with an increasing number of our customers demanding the ultimate in both performance and technology, the learnings from the McLaren P1™ are helping to develop the next generations of cars that will be introduced under the McLaren Track22 business plan.”
Jolyon Nash, McLaren Automotive Executive Director, Global Sales & Marketing

Rigorous test programme

The McLaren P1™ underwent the same rigorous development and testing regime as any McLaren car, with a total of 620,000km (385,250 miles) driven on road and track – equivalent to 15.5 times around the world.

Cold weather trials took place on frozen lakes in northern Sweden during an Arctic winter at temperatures as low as minus 30˚C. The Experimental Prototype (XP) cars were then taken to the desert heat of Arizona, California and Nevada, where temperatures soared as high as 52°C as the western coast of The United States experienced some of the hottest temperatures on record.

The focus on durability, refinement and performance during the development programme also saw the McLaren P1™ tested extensively on race circuits around the world, including at the famous Nürburgring-Nordschleife, where the car achieved its target lap time of less than seven minutes.

The McLaren P1TM GTR

The McLaren P1™ spawned an even more limited volume, track-only version, the McLaren P1™ GTR. Resurrecting the model name that adorned the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR in 1995, the McLaren P1™ GTR made its global debut in production form at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show. The car boasts a power-to-weight ratio of more than 700PS per tonne, an increase of more than 10 per cent over the road-going McLaren P1™.

Track-optimisation of the petrol-electric powertrain produced maximum power of 1000PS (986bhp). The McLaren P1™ GTR features further weight-saving measures and enhancements to the aerodynamics, driving dynamics and handling balance. The wing mirrors were repositioned to the A pillars to put them closer to the eye line of the driver and reduce aerodynamic drag. The car sits at a fixed ride height, on race-prepared suspension and motorsport alloy wheels. An all-new, titanium alloy, straight-cut, twin-pipe exhaust system was designed exclusively for the McLaren P1™ GTR.

Available only to McLaren P1™ owners, the track-focused GTR began production upon completion of the 375th and final road car.

Buyers of the McLaren P1™ GTR were invited to participate in an exclusive driver training programme that saw them experience some of the world’s most iconic racing circuits, behind the wheel of one of the most extreme limited-production track cars ever built.

McLaren P1™ facts at a glance

  • The McLaren P1™ accelerates from standstill to 300km/h (186mph) in 16.5 seconds – a full 5.5 seconds quicker than the legendary McLaren F1
  • The adjustable rear wing of the McLaren P1™ extends from the bodywork by up to 120mm on the road and up to 300mm on a track
  • Carbon ceramic discs coated in silicon carbide bring the McLaren P1™ to standstill from 100km/h (62mph) in just 30.2 metres
  • The McLaren P1™ zero-emissions range in full electric mode is more than 10km (6.8 miles)
  • In Race mode, the McLaren P1™ lowers by 50mm and the spring rates stiffen by 300 per cent, allowing the car to corner at more than 2g
  • The Formula 1-style Inconel exhaust follows the most direct route from the engine to the back of the McLaren P1™ and weighs just 17kg
  • The steering wheel diameter of a McLaren P1™ is as technically precise as a wheel used by McLaren racing drivers: the hand grips of McLaren Formula 1 World Champions were modelled on a CAD system during development and scanned to produce an exact replica
  • Each McLaren P1™ was custom-built by a team of 82 technicians in a four-stage assembly process. From start to finish, the build of each car took 17 days


Aston Martin Valkyrie: Secrets Of Exterior And Interior Design Revealed

Aston Martin Valkyrie: Secrets Of Exterior And Interior Design Revealed

Aston Martin Valkyrie: Secrets Of Exterior And Interior Design Revealed

  • Aerodynamic development has driven evolution of hypercar’s exterior design
  • Exquisite, innovative detailing reflect the uncompromising pursuit of performance
  • Ultra-efficient interior packaging achieves space for two 98 percentile adults
  • Cockpit features F1-style reclined driving position and minimalist ergonomics

Since the first reveal of the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar in July 2016, Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies have been working intensively to further develop the Valkyrie’s aerodynamics, body styling and cockpit packaging.

The teardrop-shaped cockpit’s upper body surfaces and lower tub contours follow the envelope of space available between the huge full length Venturi tunnels that run either side of the cockpit floor. Drawing huge quantities of air beneath the car to feed the rear diffuser, these tunnels are the key to generating the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s extraordinary levels of downforce while keeping the upper body surfaces free from additional aerodynamic devices that would spoil the purity of the styling.

To maximise interior space the seats are mounted directly to the tub, with occupants adopting a reclined ‘feet-up’ position reminiscent of today’s Formula One and Le Mans Prototype race cars, ensuring driver and passenger are extremely safe, perfectly supported and feel completely at one with the car. A four-point harness comes as standard, while an optional six-point harness will be offered for those who intend to do more track driving.

The Aston Martin Design team were keen to keep distractions to a minimum and focus the driver on the road ahead. To this end all switchgear is located on the steering wheel, with all the vital signs shown on a single OLED display screen. The steering wheel is also detachable, both to aid ingress and egress, and to serve as an additional security device.

Aston Martin Valkyrie: Secrets Of Exterior And Interior Design Revealed

Great attention has been taken with the glasshouse design to ensure forward and peripheral side-to-side vision is virtually uninterrupted. To avoid any unwanted aerodynamic disturbance or stylistic ‘clutter’ traditional door mirrors have been replaced by discreetly mounted rear facing cameras in each of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s flanks. These feed two displays which are positioned at the base of each A-post to mimic the view provided by conventional door mirrors. The all-enveloping bodywork and roof-mounted engine air intake means there is no rear window, negating the requirement for a rearview mirror.
Matt Hill, Aston Martin Creative Director of Interiors said of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s cockpit design: “It’s been a tremendous challenge to make the interior packaging work. We’ve embraced Red Bull Racing’s Formula One ethos and approached from a different angle than conventional road car design. In this instance, we’ve started from a position where you think something is impossible and work at it until you find a way to make it work. We’ve been fighting for millimetres everywhere, but the battle has been worth it, as it’s been fantastic seeing customers try the interior buck for size. They love the ritual of getting in and how it feels to be sat behind the wheel. They’re also genuinely surprised at how the car just seems to swallow them. You really do have to sit in it to believe there is genuine space for two large adults.”

While the essence of the original Aston Martin Valkyrie exterior design remains unchanged, Adrian Newey’s pursuit of downforce and aerodynamic efficiency has driven many detail changes to the bodywork. These requirements have been faithfully incorporated into the design by the Aston Martin Design Team in a genuine case of form following function.

Aston Martin Valkyrie: Secrets Of Exterior And Interior Design Revealed

One of the biggest changes in this latest model are openings in the body surface between the cockpit and front wheel arches, Adrian Newey having found that they were the key to achieving considerable gains in front downforce. It was then the job of the Aston Martin Design Team to integrate these new apertures into the overall design and ensure they had aesthetic merit as well as aerodynamic function.

While aerodynamics and downforce are the dominant story, Aston Martin Valkyrie features some delightful details. Some of the most striking are the headlights, which take inspiration from the pure functionality of a Formula One car’s components. Aston Martin’s designers stripped things back to the bare essentials, celebrating the engineering rather than concealing it behind cladding. With the low and high beam elements attached to an intricate exposed anodised aluminium frame not only are the headlamp units a work of art, but they are 30-40 per cent lighter than the lightest series production headlamps available to Aston Martin.

The same approach has been taken with the Aston Martin ‘wings’ badge that adorns the nose. With the regular badge considered too heavy, and a simple sticker not befitting for a car of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s quality and cutting-edge nature, the Aston Martin Design Team came up with a chemical etched aluminium badge just 70 microns thick. That’s 30 per cent thinner than a human hair, and a remarkable 99.4 per cent lighter than the regular enamel wings badge. The badge (nicknamed the ‘lacewing’) is then attached to the painted body and covered with a perfectly smooth coat of lacquer.

Aston Martin Valkyrie: Secrets Of Exterior And Interior Design Revealed

Further detail innovation can be found at the rear of the car, with the centre high mounted stop light (CHMSL). Mounted on the tip of the small shark’s fin that runs down the spine of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s airbox and rear bodywork, the light is just 5.5mm wide and 9.5mm high. Illuminated by a red LED it is the world’s smallest CHMSL and evidence of how every element of the Aston Martin Valkyrie is scrutinised in the pursuit of eliminating unnecessary weight and drag.

Aston Martin Creative Director of Exterior Design, Miles Nurnberger, said of the Aston martin Valkyrie’s design evolution: “I would say we’re around 95 per cent of the way there with the exterior design. Much of what you see is actually the structure of the car, so this had to be signed-off relatively early in the project. The remaining areas of non-structural bodywork are still subject to evolution and change as Adrian [Newey] continues to explore way of finding more downforce. The new outlets in the body are a case in point. Ordinarily the last thing we’d want to do to one of our surfaces is cut a hole in it, but these vents work the front wings so much harder that they’ve found a significant gain in front downforce. The fact that they are so effective gives them their own functional beauty, but we’ve finessed them without impacting on their functionality. That they also serve as windows through which to view the fabulous wing section front wishbones is a welcome bonus!”