McLaren ’50 in 50′: The Journey

Bruce McLaren once said:

The luck thing – really there’s no such thing as good luck. It’s good preparation and hard work.

It is certainly not luck that led McLaren to be the company they are today, growing from the humble beginnings of Bruce McLaren Racing Ltd. 50 years on McLaren as a racing team have won a number of championships (not just in Formula One), McLaren as a manufacturer have designed and created some of the most iconic road cars ever, and McLaren as a group have developed technologies which have become an integral part to many sectors.

Reflecting on McLaren’s 50th anniversary, Ron Dennis, summarised the following:

McLaren started as the dream of one man, and it’s since grown to encompass the hopes and dreams of more than 2000 men and women, who work as tirelessly as Bruce McLaren himself once did to ensure that everything we do reflects well when compared with everything we’ve ever achieved.

It has been quite a journey in the last 50 years, just like these past 50 days have been a journey for me. While collating all the information for the 50 posts I learned a lot and rediscovered forgotten memories. In the past 50 days we’ve looked at the men who have led McLaren – Bruce McLaren, Teddy Mayer, Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh. We’ve looked at McLaren F1’s 19 race winners, from Bruce himself to John Watson, and from Gerhard Berger to Jenson Button. Seven men have won the world championship for McLaren including Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna, and Lewis Hamilton, while the team have had great success at certain races such as in Belgium, Monaco and in Great Britain.

Of course, with only 50 days to play with, it means A LOT of McLaren’s history has not been covered. Key team personnel, or other countries in which they have been victorious, and drivers who have not won races. That is not to say they are not an important part of the McLaren journey, there just wasn’t time in this particular instance.


2013 has been a difficult for McLaren in Formula One. Taking the wrong direction at the start of the year has resulted in them scrapping for fifth place in the championship and not finishing higher than fifth during the year. It has been a baptism of fire for new recruit Sergio Perez. Without a podium or win in sight, it looks set to be their worst season as a team for a while. Of course, it has not always been plain sailing for the Woking-based squad, but somehow they always seem to salvage something in the past couple of decades. A brief overview of their past 23 years (1990 – 2013 inclusive, unless stated otherwise) in Formula One shows this:

Total wins: 102
Total podiums*: 192
Points finishes (from 811 starts): 507
Retirements**: 213
Average championship position***: 2.4
Winless seasons***: 4
Podiumless seasons***: 0

* additional to wins
** not including races where retirement came in last 10%
*** excluding 2013 which is still in progress

It is difficult to quantify a year as the ‘most disappointing’ for McLaren. Is it a year full of retirements? Is it a year with no wins or podiums? Is it 2007 when they were excluded from the championship? McLaren have endured winless seasons before and bounced back, and there are still four races from which they can achieve a podium. It’s all part of the journey.

What next?

McLaren have plenty coming up in the future, as the group continues to grow. For example…

  • In Formula One they are reuniting with Honda, as the Japanese company will be supplying their engines once again, starting in 2015.
  • McLaren Electronic Systems are providing the electric motor, transmission and electronics for the brand new Formula E series, due to launch in 2014.
  • McLaren Applied Technologies has establised a HQ in Singapore.
  • McLaren Automotive has established itself in China with the introduction of appointed retailers in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.
  • McLaren Automotive also revealed today that the first delivery of the McLaren P1, which goes from 0-100km/h in just 2.8 seconds, has taken place.

The future looks bright for McLaren and, after 50 years of success both on and off the track, here’s to another 50 years on the McLaren journey!

You can catch up with all fifty posts here!


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