Sometimes you don’t realise how fascinating something is, until you look a little bit deeper. McLaren are a team who have evolved from a small team in Surrey, to one of the most familiar names in Formula 1 – past and present. Though they may not be the oldest team on the current grid, McLaren do offer a lot of faith and passion.
You don’t just get wins, you earn and fight for them, and even though McLaren are very much on an uphill battle now, I have no hesitations when I say they will be back on top soon.
Bruce McLaren was not only a racer himself, but he was a keen analyst and engineer too. At just 16 years old he begun to modify his Formula 2 Cooper-Climax car to the stage of finishing as a runner up in the 1957 New Zealand championship. The next year he made his debut in Formula 1 with his modified Cooper-Climax and finished 5th out of 26 other drivers. It was in 1959 where he won his first Grand Prix, setting the record for the youngest person to do so at 22 years and 80 days (which was later beaten by Sebastian Vettel). In fact in the following year he also managed to finish 2nd in the championship behind his team-mate Jack Brabham.
At the end of 1965 Bruce left Cooper and announced he was forming his own racing team. In 1968 Denny Hulme (who had won the championship the previous year) joined Bruce McLaren Motor Racing along with Ford, and the duo won 3 races that season putting McLaren 2nd in the Constructor’s Championship.
At this point, McLaren were proving themselves as a massive force to be reckoned with in the Can-Am series. They won 5 of the 6 races in 1967, 4 of the 6 races in 1968 and all 11 races in 1969. Prior to the Can-Am series, Bruce and Chris Amon had also won the 24 Hour race at Le Mans.
Sadly, Bruce passed away during an accident testing his new M8D at Goodwood. What the Kiwi doesn’t know, is how successful his original team have become. What was just a small group of people, has developed into a very glamorous, and desiring team.
Keke Rosberg, Juan-Pablo Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen, David Coulthard, John Surtees, Gilles Villeneuve and Mario Andretti are all amongst the long list of names who have driven for the infamous team, and that’s not to mention the 7 champions they have produced; Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.
The rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the amount of recognisable cars and drivers, the tradition to wear rocket red t-shirts after each victory, it all falls under the many reasons why they will always be a respectable and heart warming team.
Races Started – 734
Wins – 182
Pole Positions – 155
Podium Finishes – 483
Fastest Laps – 152
Drivers Championships – 12
Constructors Championships – 8
No matter who you support, you cannot help but respect how far this team have come. I may only be 18, but that doesn’t stop me from being able to appreciate the history that the team have produced. You see teams come and go but McLaren have always stood firm and produced strong competitive cars – Happy 50th anniversary!