Tag: Alain Prost

F1 2016: Channel 4 and Sky Guide

It’s all change for Formula One broadcasting in the UK as Channel 4 take on the rights following the BBC’s decision to drop the sport. Fans will be able to watch all 21 races of the 2016 season live on Sky Sports F1 with Channel 4 showing ten live, with the rest available in comprehensive highlights packages as was the case with the BBC.

Channel 4 will broadcast their live races advert free.

The Calendar

March 18th – 20th – Australian Grand Prix
April 1st – 3rd – Bahrain Grand Prix
April 15th – 17th – Chinese Grand Prix
April 29th – May 1st – Russian Grand Prix
May 13th – 15th – Spanish Grand Prix
May 26th – 29th – Monaco Grand Prix
June 10th – 12th – Canadian Grand Prix
June 17th – 19th – European Grand Prix
July 1st – 3rd – Austrian Grand Prix
July 8th – 10th – British Grand Prix
July 22nd – 24th – Hungarian Grand Prix
July 29th – 31st – German Grand Prix
August 26th – 28th – Belgian Grand Prix
September 2nd – 4th – Italian Grand Prix
September 16th – 18th – Singapore Grand Prix
September 30th – October 2nd – Malaysia Grand Prix
October 7th – 9th – Japanese Grand Prix
October 21st – 23rd – US Grand Prix
October 28th – 30th – Mexican Grand Prix
November 11th – 13th – Brazilian Grand Prix
November 25th – 27th – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The races in bold indicate the races that will be shown live by Channel 4. Their live broadcasts will start at the second race of the year – the Bahrain Grand Prix – and will also include the inaugural race in Azerbaijan on the Baku Street Circuit. They will also show the British Grand Prix, the Malaysia Grand Prix and the season finale at Abu Dhabi all live.

The Teams

Channel 4

The Channel 4 coverage will be fronted by Steve Jones and the line-up includes a wealth of knowledge from current and former drivers, as well as experienced Formula One broadcasters.

David Coulthard has made the move to become Channel 4’s lead expert analyst and commentator, a role he had at the BBC previously. He will be joined in the commentary box once again by Ben Edwards who will be the lead commentator. Former Formula One driver Mark Webber and Williams test driver Susie Wolff will be on hand to offer their own analysis over race weekends.

Another former Formula One driver Karun Chandhok will join Lee McKenzie in the pit-lane. Throughout the season there will also be contributions from Alain Prost, Eddie Jordan, Alex Zanardi, Nic Hamilton, and Bruno Senna. Murray Walker will interview stars of the sport while British rookie Jolyon Palmer will have a regular column on the channel’s website.

“This is the dream team,” Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt said. “We’ve brought together the very best in screen and off screen talent to make Channel 4’s coverage unmissable.”

“I’m very proud to be a part of this exciting line-up which will give F1 fans who choose to watch the most creative and innovating free-to-air coverage of the season a totally fresh perspective,” David Coulthard explained. “This season promises to be the most competitive for years and viewers can look forward to extensive coverage of all the races, expert punditry, unrivalled paddock and pit access as well as exhilarating stunts and features throughout to bring the audience right into the heart of the race action.”

 

Ahead of the season, Channel 4 will broadcast a special programme on Thursday 17th March at 9pm. It will see road racing star Guy Martin go head-to-head with David Coulthard on their respective machines.

Sky Sports F1

It is business as usual for the Sky Sports F1 team as they continue to be the only broadcaster to show all 21 races live in the UK.

Their coverage will continue to be lead by Simon Lazenby alongside Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and Anthony Davidson. Martin Brundle will commentate alongside David Croft with Ted Kravitz in the pit-lane getting all the latest news.

“This season offers everything,” Sky Sports Head of F1 Martin Turner said. “More races, more stories and more drama and only on Sky Sports F1 can viewers enjoy the complete story live. All eyes will again be on Lewis Hamilton while Mercedes and Ferrari will go head to head for the Constructors title. Our award winning coverage will be there from the opening grid to the final chequered flag on our dedicated F1 channel and across our digitial platforms.”

And BBC? 

 BBC 5 Live will continue to broadcast the races live with Jack Nicholls in the commentary box. Other members of the BBC team include Jennie Gow, Tom Clarkson and Allan McNish. Reports continue to be posted on the BBC Sport website. James Allen has left his role as commentator.

 

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2015: Monaco Grand Prix Preview

The Monaco Grand Prix is a race like no other on the Formula One calendar. Unforgiving Armco barriers line the street circuit and it also features a tunnel, which brings with it is own unique challenges. The race is known for its glitz and glamour, including the huge yachts docked in the harbour overlooking the track. It is an event which requires not only high downforce and good mechanical grip, but intense concentration from drivers – moreso than usual. “The best thing about coming to Monaco is that it’s a circuit where the driver has more influence on events,” Daniel Ricciardo has said ahead of the weekend. With the lowest average speed of the year – 98mph – Monaco is less about outright performance, meaning those not always finishing in the top ten could take the opportunity to score points. It is also very difficult – but definitely not impossible – to overtake on the streets of Monte Carlo.

Circuit: Circuit de Monaco
Number of Laps: 78
Circuit Length: 3.337km
Number of Corners: 19
Lap Record: 1:14.439 Michael Schumacher 2004
Previous Monaco winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: McLaren (15 wins)
DRS Zones: 1
Pirelli Tyres: Soft and Supersoft

Nico Rosberg has taken pole position and the race win on Formula One’s last two visits to Monaco. Last year his pole was tinged with controversy as he ran wide at Mirabeau, resulting in yellow flags which compromised team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s running. Hamilton said Rosberg did it deliberately, and inter-team relations continued to crumble after that. Rosberg held off Hamilton in the race to win with Daniel Ricciardo picking up third for Red Bull. It is once again Mercedes going into the race dominating proceedings. Rosberg took his first win of the year in Spain, giving him the psychological edge going into what is his ‘home’ race. His strong results in the past will also help him as he looks to cut the gap further to Hamilton.

Hamilton, on the other hand, enters the weekend off the back of securing a new three year deal with the team. With contract negotiations finally completed he will be able to give his full attention to the job in hand. Their main rivals Ferrari are a team who have performed well at the circuit in the past – second just to McLaren in terms of victories there – however, the Scuderia’s last win at Monte Carlo was back in 2001 when Michael Schumacher crossed the line first.

Elsewhere it will be a bittersweet race for Manor. The team picked up their first – and so far only – points in Formula One when Jules Bianchi took ninth place in the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. It has been a difficult 12 months for the team since then with Bianchi’s horrific accident in Japan and the team entering administration within just a couple of months of each other. The team made a valiant effort to make the Australian Grand Prix, and are still racing their ‘B’ spec car, and will no doubt be thinking of their team mate over the course of the upcoming weekend.

The Circuit de Monaco is made up of a number of iconic corners such as La Rascasse, the Swimming Pool, Mirabeau, Sainte Devote, and Tabac, amongst others. Its winners list features a number of iconic drivers including Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Gilles Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen to name a few. As the saying goes, “to finish first, first you must finish”, a phrase which takes on more meaning at a place like Monaco. In last year’s race there were eight retirements and if a car stops on track there will undoubtedly be a safety car. Just who will come out on top? Action commences tomorrow with Thursday practice.

McLaren-Honda confirm Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button

McLaren have finally announced who will be driving for them in 2015. The signing of Fernando Alonso will come as no surprise but his team-mate has been the subject of speculation for a number of months.

Jenson Button will remain with McLaren for 2015 – his sixth season with the team – with 2014 race driver Kevin Magnussen becoming test and reserve driver.

“I am absolutely delighted to be on the threshold of leading McLaren-Honda to a new era of partnership,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Ron Dennis said. “I speak on behalf of all at McLaren when I say that. I am equally confident that our colleagues at Honda share that determination and passion to win. As regards drivers, McLaren’s policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible, and in Fernando and Jenson I firmly believe that is exactly what we have. We signed Fernando a little while ago, but we decided not to announce the fact until we had also re-signed Jenson as his team-mate. For many reasons our negotiations with Jenson took quite a long time, but, now that they have been concluded, we are confident that our collaboration with him will continue to thrive in the future every bit as well as it has in the past. Make no mistake about it, Jenson is 100% committed to McLaren-Honda, to Formula 1 and to winning.”

Button is currently the most experienced driver on the grid with 266 Grand Prix starts under his belt. This includes 15 victories and 50 podiums, of which eight wins were for McLaren and 26 podiums. He won the world championship with Brawn GP back in 2009 before joining McLaren in 2010. He has been somewhat in limbo over the past couple of months, not sure if he had a future in Formula One but has revealed he is excited about what lies ahead with McLaren-Honda, having spent most of his early F1 career driving for Honda (who then became Brawn). “I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together,” Button said. “I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team.” While Alonso has made no secret of his desire to join McLaren-Honda due to his idol Ayrton Senna’s association with the team, it was Alain Prost who inspired Button. “I admired Ayrton Senna enormously, but for me, it was the exploits of his McLaren-Honda team-mate Alain Prost that inspired me most as a boy,” the 2009 world champion admitted. “The way he stroked those beautifully brutal red-and-white cars to grand prix wins and world championships was to my mind poetry in motion, and I have tried to emulate his driving style ever since. Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go!”

“Looking forward, I know the Honda guys well, having driven Formula 1 cars powered by their engines from 2003 to 2008,” he continued. “I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for them, and promise to give 100% to make their partnership with McLaren a success. Last but far from least, I am very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and as experienced as Fernando as my team-mate. I am sure we will work extremely well together.”

For Alonso, the move to McLaren-Honda is a dream come true. “I have never hidden my deep admiration for Ayrton Senna, my favourite driver, my idol on track, my reference,” the Spaniard revealed. “I still remember, as a kid, the posters in my wardrobe, my toy cars in which I dreamed I would one day emulate Ayrton, and the kart that my father built for my older sister, and that I ended up falling in love with. That kart had the livery of one of the most legendary partnerships in the history of Formula 1 – McLaren-Honda – the car that Ayrton drove, the same partnership to which I am now honoured to join, to take part in the next Formula 1 world championship. I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me.”

Alonso also revealed that McLaren-Honda had approached him more than a year ago. “[They] asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership,” he explained. “McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence ahead.”

Joining Alonso and Button will be 2014 driver Magnussen, to whom Button, Dennis and Honda’s Senior Managing Officer Yasuhisa Arai paid tribute to. “Kevin has done a great job this season and will continue to be an integral part of our team,” Dennis said. “He will be our test, reserve and third driver, and remains an excellent prospect for the future.” Button expressed his gladness that Magnussen – “a very quick driver and a really nice guy” – would be remaining with the team, while Arai commented on the young Dane’s remarkable growth over last season.

“I can safely say that we now have by an order of magnitude the best driver line-up of any current Formula 1 team,” Dennis concluded as the team look ahead to 2015 and the start of a new era, laying the foundations for future domination. Back in the late 80s and early 90s – between 1988 and 1992 McLaren-Honda won eight world championships, 44 grands prix, and took 53 pole positions and set 30 fastest laps, all in just 80 grands prix. The team will be striving to return to winning ways. As Alonso stated: “we have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge!”

Analysis: how would double points have changed the last 20 years? Part One

It’s the morning after the night before. The news that from 2014 onwards, the last race of the season will have double points is still being met with largely negative views. Some have said Formula One is turning into wacky races – what will happen next?

The idea behind the double points is that championship battles will be maximised and go on for as long as possible, i.e. the last race of the season. This post is the first of two which will look back at the last 20 years and see the changes, if any, double points for the last race would have made to any of the championships.

Points were awarded to the top six in the following format: 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 meaning double points in the last race would have been worth: 20, 12, 8, 6, 4, 2.

1993 – Alain Prost

In 1993 Alain Prost won the world championship ahead of Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill. Prost had 99 points and had a 26 point advantage over Senna and 30 points over Hill at the end of the season. He had already wrapped up the championship before going into the last race and so double points would have resulted in no change:

  1. Alain Prost (99) – 111 points
  2. Ayrton Senna (73) – 83 points
  3. Damon Hill (69) – 77 points

Instead, Prost would have marginally increased his deficit over both drivers, despite Senna winning the last race of the season in Australia. There would have been minor changes elsewhere, however, with  double points allowing Jean Alesi to move ahead of Riccardo Patrese, and Gerhard Berger to leapfrog Martin Brundle. The Constructors championship would have remained as it was.

1993

1994 – Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher won his first of seven world championships in 1994, finishing one point ahead of Damon Hill and 51 points ahead of third placed man Gerhard Berger. Neither Schumacher nor Hill scored in the last race so double points would not have effected the order:

  1. Michael Schumacher 92
  2. Damon Hill 91
  3. Gerhard Berger (41) – 47

Double points would have seen Nigel Mansell elevated from ninth to sixth and Martin Brundle dropping from seventh to eighth, despite gaining points. Again the Constructors championship standings would have been unaltered.

1994

1995 – Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher won his second world championship in 1995, this time with a more dominant point deficit. He finished the year 33 points ahead of Damon Hill who in turn was 20 ahead of David Coulthard. Once again Schumacher failed to score points in the final race but he already had a significant points advantage so double points would have made little difference:

  1. Michael Schumacher 102
  2. Damon Hill (69) 79
  3. David Coulthard 49

The only other changes in the top ten would have been Olivier Panis swapping places with Mika Hakkinen due to scoring six more points, and Mark Blundell moving ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

1995

1996 – Damon Hill

After finishing second in 1994 and 1995, Damon Hill became world champion in 1996. He finished 19 points ahead of Jacques Villeneuve with Michael Schumacher in third place. Villeneuve failed to score points in the last race so Hill’s win, with or without double points was enough to secure him the championship although he would have still won without winning:

  1. Damon Hill (97) 107
  2. Jacques Villeneuve 78
  3. Michael Schumacher (59) 65

Once again the Constructors championship would have remained unchanged with Williams winning by a significant margin over Ferrari.

1996

1997 – Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve was crowned champion in 1997 when he finished 39 points ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen. David Coulthard took third place a further six points back. Michael Schumacher had ended the year in second, just three points down on Villeneuve, but was disqualified for a collision he had with the Williams driver. Schumacher was just ahead in terms of points going into the final race but his disqualification means that double points would have made no difference:

  1. Jacques Villeneuve (81) 88
  2. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (42) 43
  3. David Coulthard (36) 42

Double points would have benefitted Mika Hakkinen in the championship, as he would have finished in fourth place instead of sixth. In the Constructors championship, McLaren would also have gained from double points in the last race. They would have moved up to third place, ahead of Benetton who actually finished in third.

1997

1998 – Mika Hakkinen

Mika Hakkinen won the first of his two world championships in 1998, beating Michael Schumacher by 14 points and team-mate Coulthard by 44 points. Going into the last race Hakkinen had a four point advantage over Schumacher, but the Ferrari driver failed to score. Double points would therefore have done little to the standings:

  1. Mika Hakkinen (100) 110
  2. Michael Schumacher 86
  3. David Coulthard (56) 60

Damon Hill would have benefited from double points as they would have enabled him to finish ahead of Jacques Villeneuve.

1998

1999 – Mika Hakkinen

Mika Hakkinen became a double world champion in 1999, beating off competition from Eddie Irvine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Finn won by just two points, and was trailing Irvine by four points as they went into the last race of the season. Frentzen finished the year a further 20 points behind Irvine. If double points at the last race had been in play, the order would not have been altered, but Hakkinen would have enjoyed a larger deficit:

  1. Mika Hakkinen (76) 86
  2. Eddie Irvine (74) 78
  3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (54) 57

Michael Schumacher, who broke his leg at the British Grand Prix and subsequently missed six races, would have benefited from double points at the last round and would have moved from fifth to fourth. In the Constructors championship, Williams would have gained enough points to see them finish in fourth place in the standings.

1999

2000 – Michael Schumacher

After a disappointing 1999, with a number of races spent on the sidelines, Michael Schumacher was back to winning ways in 2000. He clinched his third world championship, ending the year 19 points ahead of Mika Hakkinen, and 35 points ahead of Hakkinen’s McLaren team-mate David Coulthard. Going into the last race, Schumacher had a 12 point lead over Hakkinen so, with ten points available for a win, the championship fight was over before the last race:

  1. Michael Schumacher (108) 118
  2. Mika Hakkinen (89) 92
  3. David Coulthard (73) 79

Jacques Villeneuve would have gained a position thanks to double points but the rest of the top ten would have remained as they were. BAR-Honda would have gained a place in the Constructors championship, progressing to fourth and dropping Benetton to fifth.

2000

2001 – Michael Schumacher

Championship number four was not far away for Michael Schumacher. A dominating year saw him finish well clear of second place man David Coulthard and team-mate Rubens Barrichello. With the championship well and truly wrapped up before the final race of the year, double points would not have made the blindest bit of difference, even if Coulthard had taken 20 and Schumacher none:

  1. Michael Schumacher (123) 133
  2. David Coulthard 65
  3. Rubens Barrichello (56) 58

Elsewhere, the rest of the top ten would have stayed exactly where they finished if double points had been available. There would have been no movement in the Constructors table either.

2001

2002 – Michael Schumacher

Another Michael Schumacher championship in 2002 saw him beat competition from team-mate Rubens Barrichello. As had been the case in 2001, the championship came long before the final race of the season, so Barrichello could not have closed the 63 point gap with double, triple or even quadruple points available:

  1. Michael Schumacher (144) 154
  2. Rubens Barrichello (77) 83
  3. Juan Pablo Montoya (50) 53

As was also the case in 2001, double points would not have altered the top ten at all and the Constructors championship would also have remained static.

2002

So far, looking back at ten seasons (1993 – 2002), the double points rule would not have made a difference to any of the championships, had they finished as they did. Part two of this analysis will look at 2003 – 2013 and see what part, if any, double points would have played.

Sebastian Vettel: Four-time World Champion

As Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to secure his fourth world championship on Sunday, at the Buddh International Circuit, he wasn’t the only driver being talked about. Names such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna were being bandied about, as Vettel cemented his position in Formula One history as one of the greats. Since his F1 debut in 2007, Vettel has broken records on his way to becoming, not only the youngest four time world champion but, one of only two drivers to win four titles back-to-back. The other man to do this? None other than Herr Schumacher himself. Only three men have won four or more titles before Vettel (Fangio, Alain Prost, and Schumacher) and the fact that Vettel is only in the early stages of his career suggests that there could be more to come!

In 2013, Vettel has been in a class of his own. Seven pole positions, 13 podiums, ten wins, and 15 points finishes from 16 starts have put him miles ahead of his rivals. He has won six races in a row since Belgium and can still beat Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a year. But how does this young German’s fourth championship stack up against his other three?

2010

After rule changes shook the field up in 2009, Red Bull and Brawn GP rose to the fore. Vettel fought with Jenson Button for the 2009 title but ultimately lost out. He was one of five drivers who spent the year in contention for the 2010 championship – Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Button, and Mark Webber – and didn’t lead it once, or at least not until it really mattered. He won in Abu Dhabi eventually finishing four points ahead of Alonso, despite being 15 points behind going into the season finale.

Here’s a look at Vettel’s season, points-wise, compared to his nearest rival at the end of the year (Alonso):

SVchamp2010

Both Vettel and Alonso had an up and down season in terms of scoring points. Vettel had four non-scoring races in comparison to Alonso’s three. Vettel only out-scored Alonso seven times from 19 races, while Alonso outscored Vettel eleven times. Both drivers scored on average around 13 points per race. But when it came to it, Vettel had four more points at the end of the year and so became world champion. His stats for the year included five wins, five further podiums, 15/19 points finishes and ten pole positions.

2011

2011 was a different kettle of fish for Vettel and Red Bull. A pole position and win at the start of the year was an indication of what was to come. In stark contrast to 2010, he led the championship start to finish, winning by a whopping 114 points over his nearest rival Button. He outscored Button by an average of 7.6 points per race and never scored less than 12 points, up to the point of winning the title at round 15 in Japan. By the end of the season he was 122 points clear of Button.

Here’s a look at Vettel’s season, points-wise, compared to his nearest rival at the end of the season (Button), at the point of winning the championship:

SVchamp2011

Vettel scored consistently throughout the season, not dropping below 12 points once. It was a steadier season than 2010 had been. It was a different story for Button and a couple of non-scores cost him. Vettel’s first (and only) retirement of the year came at Abu Dhabi (not shown on chart), after he had already wrapped up the championship and his point gap still increased. He won eight races on his way to the championship (not including races after Japan).

2012

Following the dominance of 2011, it was back to a 2010-esque year in 2012 for Vettel and Red Bull. The championship went right down to the wire and even included a fight back from a 44 point deficit to Alonso. His first victory came at round four and he had three non-scores on his way to the title. Despite this, however, he scored 14.05 points per race (compared with Alonso’s 13.9) but ended the year with his narrowest margin yet, just three points clear of the Spaniard.

Here’s a look at Vettel’s season, points-wise, compared with closest contender Alonso:

SVchamp2012As mentioned above, it is very similar to the season of 2010, with many peaks and troughs. A four race winning streak towards the end of the year really helped Vettel’s cause, as he started to claw back the -44 point deficit that had developed. By round 16 (the Korean GP) he was leading by six points and Alonso could do nothing to beat him, eventually finishing three points behind the now three-time world champion. As was the case in 2010, Vettel had five wins and five further podiums, 17 points finishes (compared with 15 in 2010) and six pole positions – his lowest tally.

2013 

Another dominating performance this season has seen Vettel wrap up proceedings by round 16, once again beating Alonso to the title. Since the Belgium Grand Prix he has won six races in a row, not allowing Alonso to stage any sort of comeback. His speed and domination have seen him secure pole position and then run away in the early stages of the race, allowing him to pit and still come out in front or near enough to it.

Once again, Vettel’s points throughout the season have been compared with Alonso’s, up to the Indian Grand Prix, where he won the title:

SVchamp2013

Both Alonso and Vettel have only had one non-scoring race each so far this season. An early three point lead over Vettel was wiped out for Alonso when he retired from the Malaysia Grand Prix and Vettel won. Vettel has scored an average of 20.1 points per race, which is an impressive average indeed. In contrast, Alonso has only scored 12.9 points per race. The Red Bull driver’s basic stats for 2013 read ten wins, three further podiums, 15 points finishes and seven pole positions – they speak for themselves.

Overall

SVchampALLThe above diagram maps out Vettel’s points difference to nearest rival i.e. the driver who finished second. The 2010 and 2013 lines only go as far as the rounds that Vettel won the championship at, and of course 2013 is still in progress. To recap, 2010, 2012 & 2013 are against Alonso and 2011 is against Button. In 2011 Vettel did not fall behind Button in the championship once. 2012 was when he dropped the furthest behind a rival, and for the longest time, while 2013 has had a solid end to it, aided by the six wins of course!

So, there we have it. A look at the four championships years for Sebastian Vettel. He has come from behind, he has led from the get-go, and he has faced some tough competition. There does seem to be a bit of a pattern emerging and, if he does find himself in contention for a fifth title in a row in 2014, he could have a bit of a fight on his hands!

Congratulations to Vettel and Red Bull for their incredible achievements.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: The Cars

Earlier this year McLaren announced that, in line with their 50th anniversary celebrations, they would be releasing 100 limited edition McLaren 50 12C and 12C Spiders. The revised cars have been produced by McLaren Special Operations, the branch of McLaren Automotive that is responsible for bespoke projects. The 50 12C comes in one of three colours, once of which is the heritage McLaren Orange first seen on the Can-Am cars in the 60s and 70s. Throughout their 50 years, McLaren have been responsible for creating a range of iconic cars, for the track and road. Here is a quick look at just a few of those cars from McLaren’s history and future:

The M23

McLaren’s M23 debuted in 1973 when Denny Hulme, Peter Revson, Jody Scheckter, and Jacky Ickx were driving. It finished third in its maiden year before going on to win a championship in 1974, with Emerson Fittipaldi piloting it to success in the Drivers’ championship as well. In 1975 it finished third, in 1976 second and third again in 1977. Designed by Gordon Cuppock, the M23 featured improved weight distribution and wider wings.

McLaren F1

Defined by many as the definitive sports car, the McLaren F1 was the group’s first production after McLaren Cars (now McLaren Automotive) was established. Bruce McLaren had dabbled in road car production in the 60s, producing one prototype of the 5.7 litre Ford engined McLaren M6 GT, but it had never taken off. McLaren, who became the first F1 team to produce a carbon fibre chassis, transferred what they had learnt in Formula One to develop the F1. It was unveiled in 1992 and launched in 1994 at the price of £540,000.

M8D

McLaren’s M8D was thrust into the spotlight in the most tragic of circumstances. While testing the car at Goodwood, a piece of the rear came loose and caused Bruce McLaren to crash at high speed. He lost his life but the team carried on, believing it to be what he would have wanted. Denny Hulme, Peter Gethin and Dan Gurney took the wheel of the car and between them won nine out of ten races in the season to become undisputed Can-Am champions. There was no better way to pay tribute to Bruce and the car has gone down in history of one of McLaren’s most iconic.

The car was fired up at the McLaren Technology Centre as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations:

The MP4-4

1988 saw McLaren adding Ayrton Senna and Honda to their line-up, joining Alain Prost. The MP4-4 dominated the year as McLaren won 15 out of 16 races with 15 pole positions as well. Their only non-win of the year was at the Italian Grand Prix. The team won the Constructors’ championship, while Senna and Prost battled it out for the Drivers’ championship. Senna came out on top. It was the start of a dominating phase for McLaren as they went on to win three more championships on the trot (and three driver titles). It is deemed, by many, McLaren’s greatest ever car.

McLaren P1™

McLaren’s most recent road-car, the McLaren P1, was officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year. Ron Dennis said of the P1: “Twenty years ago, with the McLaren F1, we raised we raised the supercar performance bar. With the McLaren P1™, we have redefined it once more.” Jenson Button drove the car at Goodwood, as well as arriving at this year’s MP4-28 launch behind the wheel of a P1 complete with test livery. The car is widely anticipated, as a successor to the McLaren F1, and will cost £860,000. It has been designed to be the best driver’s car on the road and the track. The car went into production at the start of October.

You can watch the car in action here:

 

 

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Lewis Hamilton

We’ve all heard the story about a young boy who confidently approached McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis at the 1995 Autosport Awards, telling him that he would one day drive for McLaren. That young boy was Lewis Hamilton, of course. Just three years later Hamilton was signed up by McLaren as part of their Young Driver Programme and so began a 14 year partnership.

Hamilton, like many others, started racing in karts. Aged ten he won the British Karting Championship and STP Karting Championship. In 1996 he won the Champions of the Future series and also became Sky TV Kartmasters Champion and Five Nations Champion. He continued to impress, winning most things he entered. It was in karting that he encountered current team-mate Nico Rosberg for the first time, as they partnered each other back then as well. In 1998, after he was signed up by McLaren, he won both the European and World Karting championships.

He moved to single seaters in 2001, first racing the British Formula Renault Winter Series, before progressing to a full Formula Renault UK season in 2002 driving for Manor Motorsport. He won three races and finished on the podium seven times and by the end of the year he was third in the championship. The following year he won it with ten wins and 13 podiums. Formula 3 beckoned after that and he went on to win the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2005. Hamilton joined GP2 for 2006 with ART Grand Prix. Hamilton fought hard through the year, including an impressive fight back in Turkey when he spun and dropped to the back of the field, and beat Timo Glock to the championship. On November 24 2006 it was announced that Hamilton would be joining Fernando Alonso at McLaren in Formula One.

Hamilton’s debut season in Formula One is certainly one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Qualifying fourth for the first race of the year, Hamilton wasted no time in passing his team-mate. Alonso got back past him but a third place was an impressive debut for the Brit. Four second places in a row followed and at the sixth race of the season Hamilton took his maiden Formula One win. He backed up the Canadian Grand Prix victory with another win a week later at Indianapolis. Two further third places on the trot, in France and his home race at Silverstone, meant that Hamilton had nine podiums from nine starts – highly impressive for a debut. A wet European Grand Prix was his first finish outside the points (and off the podium), but he soon got back to familiar ground with a win in Hungary and points in Turkey. Second place in Italy, fourth in Belgium, and a first in Japan added to Hamilton’s points tally and secured his position at the front of the championship. The Chinese Grand Prix was a turning point when he stayed out on his tyres just too long, and retired when his car got beached in the gravel on the entrance to the pits. He ended the year tied on points with Alonso and missing out on the championship by just a solitary point.

After Alonso’s departure, Hamilton was joined by Heikki Kovalainen for two seasons. Hamilton fought with Felipe Massa for the title in 2008 and an overtake on Glock, with whom he had been battling for the GP2 championship, at the last corner on the last lap was enough to secure it by one point. Five wins and five further podiums was enough for Hamilton to become McLaren’s next world champion. In 2009 McLaren struggled with the car at the start of the year, but in the second half they came to the fore and Hamilton picked up two race wins and three further podiums. He finished ‘best of the rest’ behind the Brawn GP and Red Bull drivers. In 2010 and 2011 he won three races and in 2012 he won four. His final race win for McLaren came at the inaugural Austin Grand Prix. He was leading the Brazilian Grand Prix until an accident with Nico Hulkenberg forced him to retire.

Hamilton announced his contract with Mercedes towards the end of September, bringing an end to his time with McLaren. He likened the move to leaving home for the first time, and seeing what else is out there. He left McLaren with 21 victories, 28 further podiums and a 74% finishing in the points record. He holds the record for most consecutive podiums from debut and most wins in a rookie season. From the moment he approached Ron Dennis and said that one day he wanted to drive for his team, Hamilton has displayed his ambition and dedication. During his six seasons with McLaren he enjoyed considerable success, and one world championship, who knows what the future will hold!

In terms of his time as a McLaren driver he was the seventh driver to win a world championship for them. He was the seventeeth driver to win a race for them and he lies third in their all time winners list, behind only Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.