McLaren P1. Chris Goodwin. Life with a game changer

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There’s a key phrase in there: ‘transform. It’s easy to forget, given the MonoCell, the 903bhp combined power output and 245kph 9.8-second standing quarter mile times that the P1 is an actual road car. Having burned what it can off it’s über-grippy Pirelli P Zero Corsas and giving its Akebono layered carbon ceramic brake discs a battering, the P1 can be switched from ‘drive it like you stole it’ mode to something almost serene at the push of the button. Less we forget the P1 has four IPAS drive modes, including Normal, Sport, Track and the full monty Race. The McLaren P1 is even capable of 12 kilometres on electric power alone.

“Developing the car to excel on the track was relatively easy,” Chris laughs, clearly amused by my reaction to this. “At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve developed the car to be driven in electric E mode around town, silently and with zero emissions. So it’s not just that we have a powerful car in a straight line, or that has good handling, or has great brakes. All of those elements we’ve maximised and then at the last cycle of development, we’ve been able to tune them all so they work well together. It’s more than two cars really. It’s a multi-faceted car.”

Here then we have a performance machine different in style not just to the F1 but to the preceding 12C too, which was hardly a wet rag to begin with. It’s important to note as well that whilst McLaren’s MP4-12C took some pretty impressive criticism on the chin thanks to its conservative/’boring’ looks designed in the wind tunnel, there’s been little of the same abuse hurled at the P1. Like it or loathe it, you could hardly call the new hypercar’s looks ‘boring’.

“There’s nobody on the planet who would say this is a boring looking car. It looks amazing, and there are a huge number of valid reasons why the 12C had a more conservative styling, since it was our launch car. Now we’ve been able to do something a bit more adventurous, and this looks amazing. I just love it!

“Comparing this with a 12C, we’ve taken the performance potential and just gone absolutely through the roof. So we’ve got more tyre grip available to us, a suspension system that’s creating more grip, an aerodynamic platform that is creating even more downforce, and an electric motor that gives double the power of a F1 KERS. So there is some overlap, briefly with the 12C, but we soon disappear off in terms of performance.”

So performance to turn even the heartiest of constitutions, aerodynamic looks straight out of an MC Escher painting, and a comfortable driving mode for the rear world. Hard to believe the detailed scrutinisers at Woking – with their pristine white benches and McLaren tick-embossed polo shirts – could have created a Jekyll and Hyde car: Lamborghini yes, but McLaren? It’s to wonder how a fully stripped-out McLaren P1 would handle life on the track, even more so given the team’s disappointing F1 campaign in 2013. Of course to do so brings with it its own issues…

“With almost 900bhp, there’s only so much horsepower you can use in the real world. The P1 has been developed to fit the bill in the Arctic circle, in the desert, at the Nürburgring, at Silverstone, on the highway. If you want to narrow it down, of course, yes, you could be more track focused at the expense of the city or conversely more city focused at the expense of the track. But for a totally street legal car, there’s really not a great deal left in the tank.”

As iPhone and Canon flashes fire away around us, it’s clear the P1’s fanbase is growing, and whether or not a roadster will take its place when the Motor Show returns to Dubai in two years time remains to be seen. McLaren has a few things up its silver sleeve at the moment, but it’ll be a long time before an F1/P1 successor rears its aerodynamically sculpted head from the drawing board.

“There’s plenty more to come,” says Chris. “It’s well documented that we’re aiming at increasing our product line-up, so we have other projects that we’re working on for the future. In this particular niche, the hypercar market, it will be a while before we try to repeat or replace what we’ve done with the P1.

“It’s an absolute game changer. It’s the car for the time”


McLaren P1
Engine: V8 / twin turbo / 3799cc
Power: 903bhp @7500rpm
Torque: 531lb ft @ 4000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed SSG
Body structure and suspension: Carbon fibre MonoCage / aluminium front and rear frames / RaceActive chassis control
Brakes: Akebono layered carbon ceramic discs / forged and hardened steel bells / 390mm (front) / 380mm (rear)
Wheels: 19 x 9-in J (front) / 20 x 11.5-in J (rear)
Tyres: 245/35 ZR19 (front) / 315/30 ZR20 (rear) / Pirelli P Zero Corsa
Weight (dry): 1395kg
0-100kph: 2.8sec
0-200kph: 6.8sec
0-300kph: 16.5sec
100kph-0: 2.9sec / 99-ft
200kph-0: 4.5sec / 380-ft
300kph-0: 6.2sec / 806-ft
Top speed: 350kph (electronically limited)

Categories: Road


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