McLaren: F1 to M1


20 Years ago McLaren boss Ron Dennis said of the F1, that it was “….the finest supercar the world was ever going to see”.

The F1 represented a step-change in itself...
The F1 represented a step-change in itself…

In Geneva recently he proudly unveiled the latest addition to the McLaren family: The 650S. And in a first season for Jenson Button since the death of his ever present father, the waxing and waning of the generations is sure to be particularly poignant.

But if there are any qualms over fatherly loyalty, Ron Dennis can let himself off on a hereditary technicality. This new machine is a full-series production car and is from a completely different familial line than the balls-out, stripped down and uncompromising, limited edition F1.

...but the coupé is, for us, the prettiest in the sector.
…but the coupé is, for us, the prettiest in the sector.

That said, like its F1 uncle, the 650S can trace its DNA right back to the crucible of top level motor racing and McLaren’s particular genius with power-to-weight-ratios.

From 1966, when they created in the M2B their first Formula 1 car in McLaren has always been an innovator with chassis design. By 1968 Bruce McLaren himself won at Spa in the M7A (see image at top of page). By 1981 a zenith was reached when they instigated a step change in Formula 1 by racing the first fully carbon fibre chassis in the sport.

It was, however, the 1988 season with Senna at the wheel of the most successful car in the history of Formula 1, that saw the conception of a new branch of the McLaren family tree with the development of the groundbreaking F1 supercar, bringing Formula 1 engineering to the streets in its rawest.

Scissor doors are a perfect twist.
Scissor doors are a perfect twist.

The 650S learns from both the F1 and the recent P1 and like them is inspired and informed by the latest track developments and based around that carbon fibre chassis.

The 650 refers to the power output (650 PS) of the twin turbo V8 engine which will get the car from 0-100kph in three seconds and reaches a top speed of 333kph. The S stands for sport and harks back to the McLaren obsession with weight and handling.

650S Spider's carbon acreage tells a tale...
650S Spider’s carbon acreage tells a tale…

This super lightweight model (1330kg) uses all the aerodynamic tricks learned from its forefathers to keep it on the road and to maximise agility while retaining a level of luxury and utility more at home in a high end saloon.

And just take a look at it. There’s everything that’s good with the combo of wind tunnel and CAD here: but there is, for us, more of an aesthetic loveliness about it than any of the previous McLaren issues.

So if you absolutely need Bluetooth technology in your Formula One precision engineered supercar, but missed out on the oligarch-only P1, this latest chip off the McLaren block should be up your street.