The F1’s chief designer, Gordon Murray, had been working on a one-plus-two seating configuration since 1969. Twenty years later, his innovative arrowhead concept came to fruition in the F1.
After analysing existing supercar performance characteristics, the F1’s handpicked engineering team rethought every element of sports car design. Drawing on McLaren’s Formula 1™ expertise, and with an uncompromising approach to design, they stripped weight, reduced drag and increased downforce. Every millimetre of the F1 was deliberated to create the world’s most exhilarating car.
The naturally aspirated 6.1-litre, V12 BMW powerplant generated the highest power output for its size, and delivered over 620bhp. This much power creates a lot of heat. So the engine bay was lined with the best heat reflector available – pure gold.
Our no compromise approach to engineering design meant we spent over 3,000 hours making each carbon fibre chassis. The throttle pedal was handcrafted out of six separate pieces of titanium. The instrument panels are handmade, hand painted and each needle is individually machined. This level of precision extended to the driver too – as each cabin was customised to the owner.
To enhance performance, handling, braking and sheer driving feel, the F1 team knew they would have to minimise weight – everywhere. Lighter and stronger than aluminium, the F1 was the first road car with a carbon fibre chassis. Its weight-saving wheels were made from magnesium alloy. The supporting sub-structure was made from titanium. Even the toolkit, made from titanium, was 50% lighter than a steel kit.
No spoilers. No wings on struts. Absolute stability at high speed. These were the immutable aerodynamic principles the F1 was designed on. To create traction-enhancing load without adding mass, the team also applied the latest ground force techniques to the car.
Months of modelling and wind tunnel testing contributed to a drag coefficient of 0.32 – making the McLaren F1 one of the most aerodynamically efficient sports cars ever built.
Formula 1-style flat underbody and diffuser system integrates into the overall design to improve downforce and provide critical engine and brake cooling.
A computer-controlled rear airbrake ensures the F1 maintains a constant centre of pressure when braking hard.
From the Formula 1 inspired telemetry to the pioneering carbon chassis, the F1’s innovative technologies were decades ahead of its time. Some of the most influential engineering highlights, like the carbon fibre tub, dihedral doors, flat underbody and Airbrake are still signature features on today’s McLarens.
The world’s fastest road car needed the world’s most advanced braking system. The computer-controlled Airbrake balances load across the car and ensures the F1 maintains poise when braking hard.
The dihedral doors are an elegant solution to a complex problem. Beautiful, simple, practical, their wide opening design makes it easy to access the central driving position.
Developed for the track and honed for the F1, the on-board diagnostic computer continuously monitors and logs a myriad of metrics to identify and diagnose faults.