In observation of McLaren’s 50th Anniversary in Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix, the Woking based Sports car manufacturer presented the McLaren F1 as a homage to a half-century at the top echelon of motor racing.
The Mclaren F1’s design was F1-inspired throughout, yet freed entirely of racing’s regulation strait-jacket. The McLaren F1’s forward, centerline driving position and its uncompromisingly ‘driver centric’ cockpit ergonomics reflect pure Grand Prix practise. Its aerodynamic form and features derive directly from Formula 1 technology, light years ahead of any applied by mainstream road car manufacturers. Further advanced features include active intelligent brake cooling and automatic aerodynamic ‘Center of Pressure control’.
McLaren F1 size, style and aerodynamic targets were established upon the project’s inception, while the interior took on a one-plus-two seating concept; inspired from the 60s. Its external envelope is tailored to optimum aerodynamic performance with sophisticated ground-effect solution obviating conventional drag-inducing spoilers and wings. The F1 requires no tail overhang to house projecting mechanical components or after-thought boot space. These are packaged within its wheelbase, as were all major masses to minimize polar moment of inertia and maximize inherent agility.
The F1’s nose form is far removed from the conventional deep ‘chin spoiler’. On each side, lightweight aluminium radiators are located within profiled air-ducts. Cooling air exits into the low pressure area behind each wheel arch. Between its twin air intakes, the F1’s nose swoops upward, directing airflow beneath the floor, which rises under the tail to form a downforce-generating ‘diffuser’ whose exit arches provide the only visible clue to the ground-effect aerodynamic design. A scuttle-top air deflector ‘foil deflects raindrops and insects from the windscreen, while vents behind the headlights assist cooling when idling stationary. At the same time, a discreet high-efficiency overhead intake feeds cool air to the V12 engine. Potential speeds above 321 km/h (200mph), over 550bhp, high cornering loads and high downforce demand no ordinary tyres. Mclaren F1 is fitted with dedicated Goodyear ‘F1’ P235/45ZR17 fronts and P315/45ZR17 rears.
Easy access to the driving seat is assured by wide-opening ‘Dihedral Doors’ incorporating sections both of floor and roof, which open in an innovative, space-saving manner. The moulded rear windscreens provide an unobstructed view of the 48-valve V12 engine and a laminated transparent sound screen separates engine bay from cockpit. The tail deck is extensively louvred to release hot air from the engine and exhaust bay. Its trailing edge also houses the unique ‘Brake and Balance ‘Foil’, a crucial feature of the F1’s aerodynamic.
The F1’s one-plus-two seating configuration features a centerline driving position that offers a spacious footbox with perfectly aligned pedals tailored to each driver’s preference. A lightweight carbon-composite seat finished in padded Connolly hide is moulded and tailored in Formula 1 style to the driver’s form. Even the grip shape of the specially-made Nardi F1 steering has been customized to the driver’s requirement and is weighted for the driver.
A minimal Formula 1-style dash panel in carbon composite presents clear specially-made analogue instrumentation, plus a liquid crystal computer read-out screen. Hand controls include finger-tip flipper switches behind the steerings, and an intricately crafted right-hand manual gear change. Passenger space and comfort have not been forgotten. The Mclaren F1 can accommodate two adults in secure, safe and air-conditioned repose. Moreover, the interior is hand-crafted in Connolly Soft Assisted Aniline leather employing the very finest selected hides available. The driving seat will have been hand-built and individually shaped and trimmed in the manner the F1 supercar.
From the project’s inception, it was decided to utilize both a purpose-designed transmission and a high-performance 12-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine of great efficiency, all integrated from the beginning into the overall F1 package. The Mclaren F1’s 6.1-liter 60-degree V12 engine is an entirely new four-cam, 48-valve unit of extraordinarily compact design, sharing nothing with BMW’s unrelated smaller-capacity production-line V12.
Innovative front and rear suspension designs resolve age-old incompatibilities between precision handling and quiet, compliant comfort in a high-performance road car. The F1 employs conventional Formula 1-style mid-engine mounting, a configuration ideal to combine optimum weight distribution and mass concentration within the wheelbase.
The F1’s exceptionally low polar moment of inertia guarantees nimble handling and manoeuvrability. Above all, the Supercar has the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production car yet made. The F1’s mere 1,018kg (just 2,244lbs) includes the most powerful and efficient purpose-designed large capacity V12 engine ever applied in production. Coupled with a production car chassis designed to be more rigid than any previously conceived, the result is dynamic indeed. The McLaren F1 achieves its astonishingly lean target weight of only 1,018kg (2,244lbs) thanks largely to its moulded advanced carbon-composite monocoque chassis/body structure.
The McLaren F1’s suspension setup comprises of the ‘Ground-Plane Shear Center (or ‘GPSC’) front suspension-mounting system, and because the car’s rear end is powered, ‘GPSC’ is inappropriate there, but despite a different approach in detail, the innovative solutions adopted are equally significant, achieving minuscule deviation from the theoretical designed geometry even under the most extreme braking, cornering and tractive inputs. Rear suspension loadings are all fed via the transaxle and engine assembly into the central monocoque chassis, drive and braking loads being accepted via axially rigid bulkhead mountings. The F1’s lower-wishbone rear mounts are linked laterally by a compliant beam, flexibly mounted on the transaxle casing to permit asymmetrical displacement of either wheel, but rigid resistance to symmetrical loadings. McLaren has selected Bilstein to design and develop the F1’s special lightweight monotube gas-pressurized dampers. These race-derived units are manufactured from aluminium to give 30 percent greater heat dissipation and are accurately tuned and adjusted to suit the F1’s characteristics.
In development of the F1, McLaren has worked closely with Brembo to develop exceptionally high-performance brakes using, for the very first time on a production car, Formula 1-type ‘monobloc’ aluminium four-piston callipers, clasping the latest road-usable ventilated discs. Fully divided front and rear hydraulic circuits are actuated by the Formula 1-style floor-pivoted pedal, while the F1’s lightweight aluminium handbrake calliper has also been specially developed by Brembo. With speed and brake application sensors feeding an electronic control unit, brake-cooling air intake ducts open automatically only when the driver makes a sufficiently-demanding application. Since closed brake ducts create no drag, they improve the F1’s aerodynamic efficiency. Furthermore, the system enhances braking ‘feel’ for the driver by sustaining comfortable pad and disc base temperatures during enthusiastic motoring.
In the electronics department, the McLaren F1 is offered with TAG Electronic Systems which consist of two major components: the Engine Management System (EMS) and Car Equipment Controller (CEC).