Building a car that pushes as many boundaries as the P1™ requires a test and validation process like no other.
Despite its strictly limited production, the P1™ underwent a comprehensive test programme, designed to ensure that the car and its state-of-the-art powertrain could deliver its extraordinary breadth of capability anywhere an owner might choose to take it. Prototypes, and the engineering team, travelled the world to ensure the car could function in the hottest and coldest climates. And, of course, the toughest environment of all – Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, and the need to meet the project target of a sub-seven-minute lap.
There is no tougher challenge for a performance car than the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The 20.8km (12.9-mile) track in northern Germany has 150 corners and 300 metres (984 feet) of elevation changes. It’s tight and bumpy, with crests sharp enough to cause a car like the McLaren P1™ to leave the ground several times during a fast lap. Barriers sit right next to the track, few corners have any run-off, and margin for error is practically non-existent. In short, it’s about the best place in the world to test the sum total of a car’s components, and the confidence they give a skilled driver to go fast. The McLaren P1™ was built to deliver a sub-seven-minute lap of the Nordschleife. For perspective, 7:06.5 was quick enough for James Hunt to secure pole position in his McLaren M23 at the last Formula 1™ race to be held at the track in 1976. For our engineering team, successfully meeting the challenge would mean both validation of their work, and confirmation of performance icon status for the McLaren P1™.
The McLaren P1™ also spent time in one of the coldest places on Earth during its development cycle. The Arctic Circle provides any array of challenges with temperatures as low as -40C. Coping with these deep-freeze conditions is even harder for the battery pack than searing heat, while the icy surface of a frozen lake proved the perfect location to put the advanced stability control systems through their paces.
The clue is in the name – California’s Death Valley isn’t a place that supports life. For a car like the P1™, the combination of searing temperatures (over 50C is common) and dry, still air provide the ultimate test of engine cooling and heat management. For the powertrain of the P1™, there was an additional challenge – ensuring the battery pack could cope with such temperatures and still deliver its boost.
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