McLaren P1™ hypercar celebrates half a decade in pole position

27 Sep 2017

  • Five years since McLaren P1™ previewed as a design study at the ‘Mondial de l’Automobile’ in Paris in 2012, ahead of production debut at 2013 Geneva International Motor Show
  • First Ultimate Series McLaren, built to be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track
  • Production run of 375 cars all hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, UK, the last of them in December 2015
  • Ground-breaking carbon fibre construction; advanced, Formula 1-style aerodynamics and pioneering high-performance hybrid powertrain technologies

The McLaren P1™ was conceived with one simple but extremely demanding aim: to be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track. As the spiritual successor to the McLaren F1 road car of the 1990s – still widely considered to be one of the greatest supercars of all time – the McLaren P1™ had to redefine not only what McLaren was capable of, but also raise the bar for the supercar world.

Five years ago, at 1745hrs BST on Thursday September 27, the car built to achieve this ambition was unveiled as a design study at the 2012 ‘Mondial de l'Automobile’ in Paris. Five months later, the production version debuted at the 2013 Geneva International Motor Show.

Leveraging five decades of McLaren motorsport experience and its deep knowledge of road car engineering, the McLaren P1™ represented both the birth of the McLaren Ultimate Series and a quantum leap in technology that delivered previously unknown levels of performance in a road car.

“The McLaren P1™ is the most exciting, capable and dynamically accomplished supercar ever and a showcase for McLaren’s innovation and technology. Absolute top speed was never the priority; we set out to develop a car that could be driven to a racing circuit and at the press of a button be the fastest-ever series production car on the track, which is a much more important technical statement and of far greater relevance to on-road driving.”

Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive

Sell-out success

The full production run of 375 cars was sold and allocated before the first was even delivered, such was the insatiable demand for the McLaren P1™. No two examples of the McLaren P1™ were the same; each was custom-built to owner-specification in consultation with McLaren Special Operations (MSO). The cost of MSO features was additional to the £866,000 price of the car.

Outstanding aerodynamics

Aerodynamic performance was prioritised from the outset of the McLaren P1™’s development. Using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) aerodynamic modelling and wind tunnel testing, McLaren designers engineered a car that produces an astonishing 600kg of downforce at well below its electronically limited maximum speed of 217mph (350km/h).

A Formula 1-style DRS (drag reduction system) helps to achieve the downforce, with the pitch of the rear wing changing to reduce drag and increase straight-line speed. The wing can also operate at an even steeper angle, to maintain aerodynamic balance under braking.

In addition to the active, adjustable rear wing, the aerodynamic performance of the McLaren P1™ is optimised using two flaps mounted under the body, ahead of the front wheels. The flaps change angle automatically to increase downforce and aero efficiency, boosting driver confidence as well as speed.

Dedication to reducing weight

Optimising weight while ensuring maximum strength and rigidity was a development imperative for the McLaren P1™ and is reflected in every aspect of the design. The dry weight of the car is just 1,395kg (3,075lbs).

The McLaren P1™ is based around a McLaren MonoCage, a carbon fibre structure that weighs just 90kg yet provides outstanding rigidity and safety while also guiding air into the car’s engine through an integral roof ‘snorkel’ and air intake ducts.

To keep weight down, all five main body panels that comprise the McLaren P1™ are made from carbon fibre. A further 1.5kg was saved by omitting the top layer of resin from interior carbon fibre components. The fixed-back, carbon fibre-shelled race seats weigh just 10.5kg each.

Super-lightweight glass for both roof and windscreen – respectively just 2.4mm and 3.2mm thick – saves 3.5kg over conventional glass. The lightweight brakes are 4kg lighter than a comparable ‘standard’ braking system.

The focus on weight was such that the original specification of the McLaren P1™ did not feature sound-deadening material or even carpet in the cabin.

Extreme hybrid performance

The hybrid, petrol-electric powertrain of the McLaren P1™ set new standards for innovation and performance when the car was introduced. A modified version of McLaren’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, tuned to develop 737PS (727bhp) combined with a lightweight electric motor producing 179PS (176 bhp) – more than double the power of the KERS unit used in Formula 1 at the time – to give the McLaren P1™ astonishing performance.

Together, the petrol engine and electric motor produced 916PS (903bhp), resulting in acceleration of 0-100km/h (62mph) in 2.8 seconds; 0-200km/h (124mph) in 6.8 seconds and 0-300km/h (186mph) in 16.5 seconds – a full five seconds quicker than the legendary McLaren F1.

The instant response of the electric motor provides sharper throttle response more usually associated with a normally aspirated petrol engine. It also helps to deliver quicker upshifts by applying negative torque to allow engine revs to fall more rapidly. When off-throttle and under deceleration, energy that would have otherwise been lost is recovered to the battery by the motor.

The battery weighs just 96kg and is mounted low down, inside the carbon fibre MonoCage. The McLaren P1™ can drive solely on its electric motor for up to 10km (6 miles) on the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle), allowing the car to be used in low emission zones and for urban driving with near-silent running. McLaren P1™ CO2 emissions overall are just 194g/km.

“The McLaren P1™ was designed to be the best driver’s car in the world and epitomises the pioneering spirit, innovation and driving excitement that is McLaren. A hybrid powertrain was key to its success and with an increasing number of our customers demanding the ultimate in both performance and technology, the learnings from the McLaren P1™ are helping to develop the next generations of cars that will be introduced under the McLaren Track22 business plan.”
Jolyon Nash, McLaren Automotive Executive Director, Global Sales & Marketing

Rigorous test programme

The McLaren P1™ underwent the same rigorous development and testing regime as any McLaren car, with a total of 620,000km (385,250 miles) driven on road and track – equivalent to 15.5 times around the world.

Cold weather trials took place on frozen lakes in northern Sweden during an Arctic winter at temperatures as low as minus 30˚C. The Experimental Prototype (XP) cars were then taken to the desert heat of Arizona, California and Nevada, where temperatures soared as high as 52°C as the western coast of The United States experienced some of the hottest temperatures on record.

The focus on durability, refinement and performance during the development programme also saw the McLaren P1™ tested extensively on race circuits around the world, including at the famous Nürburgring-Nordschleife, where the car achieved its target lap time of less than seven minutes.

The McLaren P1TM GTR

The McLaren P1™ spawned an even more limited volume, track-only version, the McLaren P1™ GTR. Resurrecting the model name that adorned the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR in 1995, the McLaren P1™ GTR made its global debut in production form at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show. The car boasts a power-to-weight ratio of more than 700PS per tonne, an increase of more than 10 per cent over the road-going McLaren P1™.

Track-optimisation of the petrol-electric powertrain produced maximum power of 1000PS (986bhp). The McLaren P1™ GTR features further weight-saving measures and enhancements to the aerodynamics, driving dynamics and handling balance. The wing mirrors were repositioned to the A pillars to put them closer to the eye line of the driver and reduce aerodynamic drag. The car sits at a fixed ride height, on race-prepared suspension and motorsport alloy wheels. An all-new, titanium alloy, straight-cut, twin-pipe exhaust system was designed exclusively for the McLaren P1™ GTR.

Available only to McLaren P1™ owners, the track-focused GTR began production upon completion of the 375th and final road car.

Buyers of the McLaren P1™ GTR were invited to participate in an exclusive driver training programme that saw them experience some of the world’s most iconic racing circuits, behind the wheel of one of the most extreme limited-production track cars ever built.

McLaren P1™ facts at a glance

  • The McLaren P1™ accelerates from standstill to 300km/h (186mph) in 16.5 seconds – a full 5.5 seconds quicker than the legendary McLaren F1
  • The adjustable rear wing of the McLaren P1™ extends from the bodywork by up to 120mm on the road and up to 300mm on a track
  • Carbon ceramic discs coated in silicon carbide bring the McLaren P1™ to standstill from 100km/h (62mph) in just 30.2 metres
  • The McLaren P1™ zero-emissions range in full electric mode is more than 10km (6.8 miles)
  • In Race mode, the McLaren P1™ lowers by 50mm and the spring rates stiffen by 300 per cent, allowing the car to corner at more than 2g
  • The Formula 1-style Inconel exhaust follows the most direct route from the engine to the back of the McLaren P1™ and weighs just 17kg
  • The steering wheel diameter of a McLaren P1™ is as technically precise as a wheel used by McLaren racing drivers: the hand grips of McLaren Formula 1 World Champions were modelled on a CAD system during development and scanned to produce an exact replica
  • Each McLaren P1™ was custom-built by a team of 82 technicians in a four-stage assembly process. From start to finish, the build of each car took 17 days


Notes to Editors:

A selection of high resolution images accompanying this release is available to download from the McLaren Automotive media site –

About McLaren Automotive:
McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sports and super cars, located at the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking, Surrey. For the past 30 years, McLaren has pioneered the use of carbon fibre in vehicle production and since introducing a carbon chassis into racing and road cars with the 1981 McLaren MP4/1 and 1993 McLaren F1 respectively, McLaren has not built a car without a carbon fibre chassis.

Following the global launch of McLaren Automotive in 2010, the groundbreaking 12C was revealed in 2011, the 12C Spider in 2012, and the limited-run McLaren P1™ went into production in 2013. In keeping with its plan to introduce a new model each year, the company unveiled the 650S, in Coupé and Spider form in 2014, while 2015 proved to be a year of unprecedented growth of the product portfolio with five new models launched across the full range. The strictly limited edition 675LT Coupé premiered at the Geneva Motor Show alongside the track-only McLaren P1™ GTR which, with 1,000PS, became the most powerful model ever produced by the brand. The much-anticipated Sports Series became the third – and final – model tier in the McLaren range with the 570S Coupé and 540C Coupé debuting in New York and Shanghai respectively, less than one month apart. The end of 2015 saw the launch of the fifth model, the 675LT Spider, which was as a direct response to customer demand. The year also saw the end of production for the first model in the Ultimate Series as the 375th McLaren P1™ was completed, closing what had become a defining year for the British brand. 2016 continued where 2015 had left off with the introduction of the 570GT - a second bodystyle for the Sports Series and the most luxurious car McLaren has ever built, as well as the 570S GT4 and 570S Sprint track variants. 2016 also marked the introduction of the company’s new business plan, Track22, which sees the company investing £1B in Research and Development to deliver 15 all new cars or derivatives by the end of 2022, of which at least 50% will feature hybrid technology. The uplift in sales in 2016 also saw the launch of the second shift at the McLaren Production Centre as well as the company’s third year of profitability in just six years of trading. In March 2017, the second-generation Super Series was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show with the global premiere of the McLaren 720S. The first convertible model in the Sports Series, the 570S Spider, was revealed in June 2017 and made its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

McLaren Automotive Partners 
To support the development, engineering and manufacture of its range of innovative and highly acclaimed sports cars, McLaren Automotive has partnered with world leading companies to provide specialist expertise and technology including, AkzoNobel, Kenwood, Pirelli, Richard Mille and SAP.

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Further information:

Wayne Bruce
Global Communications & PR Director | McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone: +44 (0) 1483 261500
Mobile: +44 (0) 7768 132429

Daniel Golding
Global Head of Corporate Communications | McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone:+44 (0) 1483 261500
Mobile: +44 (0) 77717 450469

Paul Chadderton
Global Product Communications & PR Manager | McLaren Automotive Limited
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Mobile: +44 (0) 7990 776749

Adam Gron
Senior Press Officer - UK | McLaren Automotive Limited
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Mobile: +44 (0) 7827 081 770

Freddie Gilbey
Lifestyle Communications | McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone+44 (0) 1483 261500
Mobile: +44 (0) 7500 999 553

Hunter Skipworth
Social Media Manager | McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone+44 (0) 1483 261500
Mobile: +44 (0) 7990 564 052

Amel Boubaaya
European Communications & PR Manager | McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone+44 (0) 1483 261500
Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 531357

Laura Conrad
Public Relations | McLaren North America
Phone: +1 765 517 2186

Karin Haferkorn
Head of Marketing & PR, Middle East, Africa and Latin America McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone: +44 (0) 1483 261343
Mobile: +44 (0) 7899 816872

Sunny Zhang
PR Communication Director - China McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone: +86 (0) 21 2074 0520
Mobile: +86 186 1617 9933

Gracia Yap
PR Manager – Asia Pacific McLaren Automotive Limited
Phone: +65 6338 3700
Mobile: +65 9109 3698

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