Category: McLaren ’50 in 50′

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Iconic Partnerships

Over the years McLaren have been involved with a number of different sponsors, leading to some iconic branding for them. Title sponsors over the years include Yardley, Marlboro, and West. Their most recent, and current, title sponsor is Vodafone, but the team recently announced that that relationship would be coming to an end at the end of the 2013 season.

One of McLaren’s most iconic liveries was on the car from the mid 70s to the mid 90s. When Marlboro joined the team and became title sponsor, the cars ran a red and white livery, which has become as synonymous with McLaren as their orange liveries from the late 60s/early 70s. It also coincided with the successful Honda era (1988 – 1991) when McLaren won four constructors titles in a row, coming second in 1991. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost also won drivers championships for the team during this period.

When Marlboro left the team to join Ferrari, McLaren had a livery and a title change. They became known as West McLaren Mercedes, and changed to a black and white colour scheme. It was this design that McLaren won their last constructors championship to date in 1998, with Mika Hakkinen securing the drivers championship two years in a row. After new tobacco advertising laws were introduced in Europe, McLaren dropped West as a sponsor and ran a season simply named Team McLaren Mercedes in 2006. This was also the time when they changed to their current livery – dropping the white and introducing a largely chrome livery and incorporating red.

McLaren’s longest running partnership is with Hugo Boss, with whom they have been working with since 1981. It is also the longest sports sponsorship of all time. Hugo Boss work with McLaren to provide team-wear. Vodafone became title sponsor of McLaren in 2007, becoming their Official Total Communications Provider in 2010. When Spaniard Fernando Alonso joined the team for 2007, Santander became a Corporate Partner. Other familiar names linked with the McLaren team are AkzoNobel, Hilton HHonors, Johnnie Walker and SAP.

McLaren’s engine partnership with Mercedes started in 1995 and will come to an end at the end of the 2014 season. McLaren will return to Honda engines, with whom they enjoyed considerable success, as mentioned above. The relationship with Mercedes will be investigated in a later post.

Tomorrow’s ’50 in 50′ post will take a look at the overall McLaren Group.


McLaren ’50 in 50′: Celebrations in Italy

McLaren officially marked their 50th anniversary with celebrations in the paddock at the Italian Grand Prix. Both of their cars were branded with the McLaren 50 logo and, on Sunday, the team wore special “retro” shirts and flat-caps in rocket red. Their Brand Centre, was decorated with a mural celebrating 50 years of the team. The occasion was also celebrated at the McLaren Brand Centre in the paddock on Saturday evening, where rival team principals, members of the media, and current and former drivers were in attendance. Lewis Hamilton, Niki Lauda, Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz were amongst the former drivers who were there. Ron Dennis was also there.

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh delivered a speech at the event, highlighting McLaren’s history but also looking to their future. He said: “Many great McLaren names have starred in that glorious story – you can see some of their faces on the mural on the front of our Brand Centre this weekend – our founder, Bruce, and the seven drivers who’ve won world championships for us so far – Emerson [Fittipaldi], James [Hunt], Niki [Lauda], who’s with us this evening, Alain [Prost], Ayrton [Senna], Mika [Hakkinen] and Lewis [Hamilton], who’s also with us this evening.

“Birthdays should provide a milestone at which one should pause for thought, take stock, and plan for the future with the advantage of having assimilated and analysed what’s gone before.

“And that’s what we at McLaren are doing right now.

“So, yes, 2013 hasn’t been a great year for us, we know that, and no-one minds that more than I do. But throughout this difficult year I’ve been massively impressed by the undiminished ambition of all my colleagues, at all levels and across all disciplines, and that’s why I can say with confidence – no, with certainty – and most of all with great pride – that McLaren’s next 50 years will be greater even than our first 50 years.

“And I think all of you here today, whether you’re from other teams or from the media or from wherever else, recognise McLaren’s burning passion to win – a passion shared by everyone who’s ever worked for McLaren, everyone who works for McLaren now, and everyone who’ll ever work for McLaren in the future.

He also invited the crowd to join him in commending Ron Dennis for his integral role in the team by providing a standing ovation.

McLaren had been hoping to continue their celebrations on the track but, despite a positive qualifying which saw both drivers make it through to Q3, they were lucky to salvage a point on Sunday. Perez was lucky to continue after contact with Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner. Jenson Button was lucky to make the grid at all after his team had to work frantically to ensure they fixed a fuel problem before the pit-lane closed. Both drivers ran solidly in the top ten but were hunted down by a fast paced, out of position, Hamilton in the closing stages. Button held onto tenth but Perez lost out, eventually finishing 12th behind Raikkonen.

Tomorrow’s ’50 in 50′ post will look at iconic brands and names McLaren have been associated with over the years.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: History at the Italian Grand Prix

McLaren have won a lot of races in their 47 year history in Formula One, 182 to be precise. In total, they have won at 28 Grand Prix – from their first victory at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix to their most recent win at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. There are only seven Grand Prix they have won at more than the location of this weekend’s race – the Italy.

The Italian Grand Prix has been on the calendar since the inaugural Formula One world championship season in 1950. It has been held at Monza every year, bar one when it was held at Imola. Of the 63 Italian Grand Prix that have been held, McLaren have won a sixth of them. The team have ten victories to their name – second behind Ferrari with 19 – the most recent of these being in 2012 when Lewis Hamilton won for them.

Denny Hulme won the race in 1968 for McLaren. They then had to wait 16 years until they won it again. This time it was Niki Lauda who stood on the top step of the podium, in 1984. Wins in 1985, 1989 and 1999 took their tally of Italian Grand Prix victory to five. Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were the two drivers to win for them then. Senna’s second Italian Grand Prix victory came in 1992, followed by a win for David Coulthard in 1997. Juan Pablo Montoya took the chequered flag first in 2005. In 2007 Fernando Alonso led home a McLaren 1-2, with Lewis Hamilton coming home in second. The tenth, and so far the final, victory for McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix was in 2012, when Hamilton won.

It hasn’t just been wins for the team, however, as they have also started the race from pole position on eleven occasions and set the fastest lap eleven times. Five of the ten victories have come when they started the race on pole and on four occasions the team started on pole, set the fastest lap of the race and won. In 1990 McLaren had two drivers on the podium – Senna in first and Gerhard Berger in third.

Before the race weekend, Jenson Button said: “It’s really appropriate that McLaren will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the paddock over the Monza weekend. Both names are synonymous with motorsport history – you couldn’t imagine Formula 1 without them – so I’ll be hoping for a strong result to show the strength and depth that we have as a team.”

McLaren drivers Button and Sergio Perez, who finished the race here last year in second, will start tomorrow’s race in eighth and ninth place. Tomorrow’s ’50 in 50′ post will look at their Italian Grand Prix.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Martin Whitmarsh

Martin Whitmarsh is the current Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes, having taken over the role from Ron Dennis at the start of 2009. He has been with McLaren for over 20 years, initially joining as Head of Operations in 1989.

Whitmarsh comes from an engineering background. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1980 and went to work at British Aerospace. There he worked first as a structural analysis engineer before being promoted to work in advanced composite structures research and development. By 1988 he had become Managing Director but left the company to join McLaren in 1989.

His initial role at McLaren was Head of Operations. After eight years with the team he became Managing Director of McLaren Racing. In 2004 he was promoted to CEO of McLaren’s Formula One operation. In 2009, when Ron Dennis chose to step down from his role as Team Principal so he could focus his attention on other aspects of the McLaren Group, in particular Automotive, Whitmarsh was promoted to the job. It was a baptism of fire as McLaren suffered a difficult start to their Formula One season. Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix after ‘liegate’, when he lied to the stewards about a pass involved Jarno Trulli and the safety car. Heikki Kovalainen also had a difficult start to the season, failing to get past the first lap of either of the first two races. A few points finishes was followed by a string of disappointing results for McLaren but, after Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team managed to get their season on track. They scored more points than any other team in the second half of the season and finished the year in third behind Brawn GP and Red Bull.

Whitmarsh is now arguably facing his toughest challenge yet with McLaren. In 2013 the team have failed to get any podiums and at times have struggled to finish in the points. With the deflection of Hamilton to Mercedes, McLaren have Sergio Perez driving alongside Jenson Button. The Mexican has come under some harsh criticisms since his debut for McLaren and Whitmarsh asked him to ‘toughen up’. McLaren are under increased pressure to provide results, and with big changes coming in 2014, they will be hoping they can get back to the front.

In an interview published on the official Formula One website, Whitmarsh said: ” We are our own harshest critics. This year we have made some big mistakes – that is very obvious, and difficult to rectify. I don’t like it, but there is no point in hiding from it. We’ve won 182 Grands Prix and I have been around for more than a hundred of them and, of course, it is much more enjoyable to go motor racing with the prospect of winning. We don’t enjoy going racing without that prospect, so it’s now painful and difficult, but that’s life.”

As well as being in charge of McLaren for the past five years, Whitmarsh has chaired the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA).  Seven of the current teams are members of FOTA (McLaren, Mercedes, Force India, Marussia, Caterham, Williams and Lotus), which aims to promote Formula One and enhance its worldwide reputation. It gives the teams a collective voice when it comes to negotiating with the FIA. Whitmarsh revealed this year that he would not stand for re-election as chairman as he feels it would be beneficial for someone else to take on the role.

Whitmarsh completes the posts on the four Team Principals. Tomorrow’s post will look at McLaren’s history at the Italian Grand Prix!

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Teddy Mayer

Following Bruce McLaren’s death in 1970, Teddy Mayer took the reigns of the McLaren team. He was in charge when the team won their first constructors’ championship and drivers’ championship with Emerson Fittipaldi. Between 1972 and 1977 (inclusive) the team featured at the sharp end of the championship with James Hunt winning the drivers’ championship in 1976.

Born in 1935, Teddy Mayer originally studied law. He got involved with motorsport through his younger brother Timmy, who was a racer. In the early 60s, Teddy ran Rev-Em, a Formula Junior team, with future McLaren driver Peter Revson. Revson and Timmy were two of the drivers and the team proved to be successful, winning 15 of 16 races.

Following Timmy’s death in 1964, while driving for Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team, Teddy gave up his career as a lawyer and joined Bruce McLaren in establishing his team, offering both financial and managerial assistance. When Bruce tragically died in 1970, Teddy stood up to the helm and became Team Principal for the next decade.

As mentioned above, he was behind a successful era for McLaren in the 70s. It was he who enticed Fittipaldi and Hunt to join the team. McLaren also continued to be successful outside of Formula One, racing in the Can-Am series and Indy car. After a dip in form for the team, however, Teddy left them in 1982, selling his shares. According to Ron Dennis, who took over the role of Team Prinicpal for McLaren in 1980, “Teddy was one of motor racing’s few truly great men.”

“As far as I and all at McLaren are concerned, he has particular importance, on account of the fact that in 1963 he was part of the very small team of talented enthusiasts who, alongside Bruce McLaren, founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd.”

Despite leaving McLaren and Formula One, Teddy remained very involved in racing. He moved to work in CART before returning to Formula One in 1986, co-founding Haas Lola with Carl Haas. In the 90s he became Vice-Chairman of Penske’s motorsport operations. He remained a part of Penske, moving to a consultancy role, until 2007.

Sadly, in 2009, Teddy Mayer died. He played a crucial role in the start-up of McLaren and developing them to become the iconic and successful team they are today.

Tomorrow’s post will look at the formidable Ron Dennis, Teddy Mayer’s successor to the role of Team Principal at the McLaren racing team, and founder of the McLaren Group.

McLaren: ’50 in 50′: Bruce McLaren

Bruce McLaren: racing driver, race car designer and team founder.

Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1937, Bruce McLaren was involved with cars from a young age. He helped his father, Les McLaren, restore a 1929 Austin Ulster at age 13 and raced it two years later in the 750cc class at the Muriwai hill climb.

Making his Formula One debut in 1958, Bruce became the youngest driver to win a race at just 22 years of age, at the wheel of a Cooper in 1959. In 1962 Bruce came third in the world championship with one race win, a second and three thirds. In 1963 Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd was founded and entered Formula One in 1966 piloted by Bruce himself. He scored three points that season. In 1968 Bruce took McLaren’s first victory, winning the Belgian GP. His most successful year, when driving for his own team, was 1969 when he once again finished third in the championship.

As well as Formula One, McLaren enjoyed a successful foray in Can-Am (Canadian-American Challenge Cup), a sports car series. Bruce was champion twice, with Denny Hulme and Peter Revson also piloting the car to championships. It was while testing a Can-Am car, the M8D, at Goodwood that Bruce tragically lost his life, aged just 32. Rear bodywork lifted on the rear of his car and sent it into a spin and hit an embankment.

At the launch of this year’s MP4-28, a haunting video of Bruce’s ‘ghost’ visiting the crash scene was shown. It included many quotes from Bruce, including the following:

“To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”

He penned this in his book ‘From the Cockpit’ while recalling the death of Timmy Mayer, the younger brother of his business partner Teddy Mayer. For many this is regarded as an unofficial epitaph for Bruce. As an incredible tribute to him, his team ensured that two M8Ds were on the grid for the Can-Am championship just 12 days later and, with Dan Gurney and Denny Hulme behind the wheel, the team secured nine victories out of a possible ten.

What an incredible man and what an incredible legacy he left behind. McLaren as a team have had success across the board, winning the Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring, as well as in Formula One.

On day three of McLaren ’50 in 50′ we’ll be looking at the man who helped Bruce start McLaren, and led the team after Bruce’s death – Teddy Mayer.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Introduction

As you may or may not know, I am a big fan of McLaren and have been since I started watching Formula 1. I wanted to mark their 50th anniversary by doing something special and so ’50 in 50′ was born.

For the next 50 days, including today, I will be looking at the different aspects of McLaren that have made them the team they are today. From their founder Bruce McLaren to other key personnel such as Ron Dennis and world champions, along with other important components that make up the McLaren Group as it currently is.

McLaren is, of course, about more than just the racing team. The McLaren Group comprises six companies overall and these are McLaren Racing, McLaren Automotive, McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren GT3 Racing, McLaren Electronics and Absolute Taste.

The McLaren story started 50 years ago in 1963 when Bruce McLaren founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Look how far the team have come since then – continuously evolving and remaining at the forefront of technical development. The McLaren racing mantra is ‘McLaren exists to win races’; something which was clear early on when Bruce McLaren himself wrote the now iconic words:

‘Life is measured in achievement, not in years alone’

They are the most successful Formula One team post-1966, the year they entered the sport, with 182 race wins. Along with that they have 20 world championships in total – 12 drivers and eight constructors’ – ranging from 1974 to 2008. In recent times McLaren have also set a new record for most consecutive races in the points. They managed 64 races, between the start of 2010 and the 2013 Candian Grand Prix (where the record ended), with at least one car finishing in the points.

So, where better to start ’50 in 50′ than looking at the man who made it all possible: Bruce McLaren. His name lives on in the team he started 50 years ago. He died at age 32, leaving behind an impressive legacy.

“Bruce McLaren wrote the beginning of the story, and the legend is going to continue for many years to come”

~Ron Dennis 2013 

Please join me on this journey of celebrating 50 years of McLaren in 50 days.

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