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McLaren move forward on road and racing side
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McLaren move forward on road and racing side
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Apr 2010   |  11:34 pm GMT  |  95 comments

There has been some shifting around of roles at McLaren in recent times and the opening up of new horizons with a new base being established in the Middle East.

McLaren is moving forward in the aftermath of its split with Mercedes and now the company is on its own and trying to forge ahead as a car maker as well as a leading F1 team, the one trading off the other.

Chairman Richard Lapthorne, who was drafted in from industry after the scandals of Spygate and particularly Liegate, has stepped down and Ron Dennis has taken back overall chairmanship of the Group, which means he is back in the management of the race team. He is also chairman of McLaren Automotive.


Meanwhile Martin Whitmarsh has two newly defined roles in addition to his position as team principal of the F1 team. He is CEO of the group and Deputy chairman of the automotive company. His main focus should be the race team, but he is interested in the car side and is clearly a highly trusted colleague by Dennis. But with his commitments as president of the team’s association, FOTA, there is always a risk of him spreading himself too thin or of getting distracted, something the sponsors of the F1 team will not wish to see. He will rely heavily on Jonathan Neale in helping him run the team.

The less well reported news this week is that McLaren has also opened a base for its automotive business in Bahrain. It will act as the regional hub for the sale of the MP4/12C and future McLaren models.

The Bahraini royal family’s investment vehicle Mumtalakat owns 50% of McLaren Automotive. It also owns a 42% stake in McLaren Group, which also owns the McLaren F1 team, along with Ron Dennis and Mansour Ojjeh.

The MP4/12 C is the first of a series of F1 inspired sports cars from McLaren. It is priced at around £150,000 to take on the Ferrari core market. The next car will be a more high end vehicle, more costly and with a smaller production run. After that will come a more affordable model likely to come in at below £100,000.

McLaren F1 team took an impressive 1-2 finish in the most recent Grand Prix in China and, according to Lewis Hamilton, the team is in a very good place now, after a troubled 2009 campaign,
“It feels like the team is really firing on all cylinders – everybody in this team, every single last person, is working better than ever to get us these results, and it’s really starting to pay off,” he said.

“The atmosphere within the team is fantastic – we are a strong group now, and we know what it takes to win more races. We are hungry for it. China was good – but we want more of those results because they always make us feel so good.”

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95 Comments
  1. Adam Taylor says:

    Now that McLaren has its own road car division, are they no longer classified as an “independent” team since the split from Mercedes??

    1. TheSpy says:

      Ron has his haircut at Luigi’s in Woking if you want to bump into him…

      1. CheekyMonkey says:

        Not too often tho’ I guess ;)

  2. Nick Someone says:

    I can’t answer your pole. I wish there was an option for “I don’t know”. The Mclaren is the 3rd fastest car so far, but then again their race pace seems to have been good and they have been overtaking cars left right and centre. Everyone is going to be bringing updates to Barcelona, and the whole picture could change.

    …so in conclusion:

    Don’t have a clue. …and that’s good. makes F1 much more interesting than normal.

    1. Tom in Australia says:

      It’s a poll. Nobody knows. It’s about giving an opinion based on available information and your own intuition (or bias)…

    2. Freespeech says:

      All this McLaren are currently 3rd fastest is, in my opinion rubbish and just way too simplistic.
      True in dry qualifying they do appear to be 3rd fasted but in race trim at the start of the race with full tanks I believe they are in fact the current fastest and in rain conditions they are at least equal fastest and faster than the Redbulls.
      Couple this with McLaren’s unrivalled development history (no team had ever done what McLaren did last year, not in the history of F1 and that was without any on track which gives them another edge the others don’t have) testing they are sitting in a pretty good position

  3. Torrent says:

    I’ve always felt that Ron DENNIS hated FERRARI because no matter what he does, McLaren will never be FERRARI as simple as that. It is the same reason FRASIER can’t be ALI yet he is very good. There are other things called charisma, personality that defines a person beyond his qualities. That’s what SENNA had and PROST missed, that’s what ALI had and FRASIER missed.
    When you see a FERRARI you feel that and it is the only team which brings that feeling all over the world. Every FORMULA1 fan is either fan of FERRARI or of a FORMULA1 driver. When you go to races, you see FERRARI flags all over the place…. Imagine that FERRARI is the equivalent of LA SQUADRA AZZURRA for italians and yet it is loved in all other countries. Besides, Enzo FERRARI is the only person I know who sold cars to run his scuderia and not to make money.

    RON DENNIS tried and continue to try to turn his team into the 2nd FERRARI so he built huge magnificient headquarters, he built the biggest & most beautiful motorhome, etc… And now, he starts selling cars (fitted with engines built in germany !!!). He reminds me of new rich who don’t have the manners and try very hard to show they belong to that exclusive club and end up looking stupid.
    Just to show you how famous is McLaren, I live in FRANCE and motorsports don’t draw the same attraction as in BRITAIN to say the least. Many of people with whom I speak of FORMULA 1 call the McLaren team MERCEDES because they don’t know about McLaren.

    The McLaren road cars are the ultimate step towards the policy of emulating FERRARI. As for the MC12, it is just another mid-engine car with nothing spectacular when it comes to its look. It doesn’t have the singularity of the Mclaren Mercedes SLR, doesn’t have the exclusivity and vintage touch of the new mercedes sls. Let alone any FERRARI on earth. Along the way RON DENNIS forgot to hire a new PININFARINA.

    It is the 1st McLaren, so we musn’t be too harsh but there’s one thing you feel with that car is its lack of character. It could have been built by any little manufacturer like PAGANI, GUMPERT, ASCARI, etc… At least with PAGANI & GUMPERT you feel that each car has that special thing which sort it from the rest. The McLaren MC12 looks like any other mid-engined car nothing special, no character. They are relying on Lewis Hamilton & BUTTON driving the car to sell it.
    Well I think it will be a success because of the FORMULA1 image but when you think of british high performance cars you probably think of JAGUAR & mainly ASTON MARTINs the most beautifull sportscars on earth. These cars have caracter, heritage, everything….

    Even technically the car isn’t a McLaren given that the core of the car, its heart : the engine is built somewhere in germany as little manufacturers do. If you don’t build your own engine you are not a proper car manufacturer. ENZO, the man who believed in engine power above aerodynamics and in V12s above anything else, died long ago. He would never have accepted such a thing.

    Rest in peace ENZO !

    1. Aderac says:

      not so sure about dennis hating ferrari, but you obviously have a problem with him and mclaren

      1. Torrent says:

        I don’t think he hates FERRARI but he’s kind of jealous of their status in the motorsport world.

    2. Herbert says:

      What a load of rot.

      Engineering brilliance will devlop a legacy of passion and emotion in time.

      They will create a new bandwagon for people to jump on if you like, but they have earnt their repuation the hard way and to dismiss it in such patronising terms is childish.

      1. Torrent says:

        If there’s something McLaren lacks it is EMOTION. When RON talks to the media, you could have put a robot instead, that wouldn’t have made a difference.
        I think that Whitmarsh has turned a team into a more open, more relaxed mood. He’s on the right path.

      2. Howard Hughes says:

        Well the McLaren Mercedes SLR was a dog of a thing, and quite a poor handler, whilst the new homage to the SL is not a particularly attractive car, at least when viewed side by side with the gloriously sublime original.

        So, er, you’re wrong.

      3. murray says:

        Dennis is much more corporately-oriented than Enzo Ferrari was, but he’s trying to build a self-sustaining corporation around a core of passion, which Enzo couldn’t. If Ferrari hadn’t been able to sell off to Ford or Fiat in the mid 1960s, they wouldn’t be around today. I think the reason McLaren split with Mercedes is that Dennis wouldn’t allow McLaren to be subsumed within Mercedes’ corporate structure, like AMG has been, to become not much more than a prestige badge for the parent company. Ron started in F1 as a mechanic for Brabham, who was something of a surrogate father, as well as a friend and mentor of Bruce McLaren. If Dennis isn’t able to elocute as passionately as some, you can’t extrapolate from that that he lacks passion, simply perhaps the ability to express it. Which is something of a European specialty, as Anglos see it, anyway. The name Ferrari is basically Smith in Italian, but it sounds ever so much more exotic than that, doesn’t it?

    3. Ajay says:

      I’ve felt that way about McLaren too, especially after the F1 came out. It was blatantly obvious that that car was meant to go one up on the F40 (which it did by becoming the fastest production car)

      Sure, if McLaren continued on the back of the F1′s success they would’ve been building cars for over 15 years now. We’d all have a very different perspective of their road cars and the company as a whole. However, they didn’t which is why the 12C seems like such a big deal.

      If McLaren are still building road cars 25 years down the line, they’ll have some legitimate claim to the kind of heritage Ferrari has. But they’ll never become another Ferrari. Ferrari would’ve been building road cars for 88 years by then!

      (Side note about McLaren in public consciousness: Firefox keeps highlighting McLaren as a possible spelling mistake. Not Ferrari!)

    4. Doug says:

      I get where you’re coming from…but what about the McLaren F1? The packaging & detail on this (old) car still set benchmarks….it makes you wonder what on earth the new McLaren supercar will be like!?

      I don’t think Ron Dennis has anything but respect for Ferrari, hence why he is trying to emulate their ethos. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as they say! :-)

      1. Torrent says:

        I’m not french. I just live there.
        RON’s feelings about FERRARI are simply jealousy and I’m not going to speak about how he stripped his team of everything that reminds you of its origins. As for the imitaion, always go for the original !

      2. FletcherB says:

        I’m going to have to correct you there again…

        It may not be obvious to anyone but us New Zealanders, but that little curvy bit at the end of McLaren’s official logo is a stylized kiwi… which was originally part of the logo Bruce McLaren used for his race-team… because a kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand and also a term we use to refer to ourselves…

        So, despite the fact that the team hasnt been owned by a New Zealander for nearly four decades, I’m still reminded of that history every time I see the logo.

      3. murray says:

        Check out the profile of the new road car. The sweep of the side crease into the vents ahead of the rear wheels is pure stylised kiwi. Europeans idolise Ferrari because of their heritage. Ron Dennis has a British company, but he knew McLaren and unlike, say, the reincarnation of the Lotus name, there’s a continuous heritage since the company was founded. To New Zealanders and many Australians, Bruce McLaren was an Enzo Ferrari, Ron Dennis an Agnelli or de Montezemola. To dismiss Dennis’ motivation as ‘jealousy’ is to use the word as a facile perjorative for ‘competitive’. Is Ferrari any less jealous of the championships that McLaren won ahead of them? McLaren is the one company that threatens to match their record of wins in F1, despite the most successful driver in history never having driven for them. Ferrari’s championships would be meaningless without that depth of competition.

      4. Doug says:

        Why you think Ron would be jealous of Ferrari is a mystery to me. I think he admires them, as they have always been one of his fiercest competitors.
        Whilst your comment ‘As for the imitation, always go for the original !’ is a cool soundbite, it sadly lacks any understanding of the world we live in. People are always striving to improve products made by others, be it watches, cars, planes etc. The world is a competitive place & Ferrari needs McLaren just as McLaren needs Ferrari…to measure each other by. ;-)
        I welcome McLaren’s decision to build road cars & wish them good luck. In this climate it’s a brave move…but as they say ‘Fortune favours the bold!’

    5. Fanman says:

      The engines are McLaren engines, designed and built in the UK.

    6. Nash says:

      I give Dennis a lot of credit for trying to bring his’ organization racing experience, knowledge and heritage to car enthusiast around the world.

      Dennis with HIS VISION has brought together a group of people has changed the way F1 cars were designed, built and raced.

      Times have changed, competition in the market is different, all is more global. If to get his cars on the road he must seek strategic partnerships and alliances. I see no shame in having engines built in Germany by an excellent and highly expert group of people.

      I think the point here missed is that Mclaren is not trying to be like Ferrari; it has a vision to be produce excellent high performance road cars in a highly professional and 21th century manner.

      I’d invite critics of Dennis to go around and look for someone of OUR generation who is establishing the same thing as he does.

      Is there currently anyone out there who has both the vision, intelligence and confidence to take on long and well established marques like Mercedes, Ferrari?

      1. Torrent says:

        Nash you said “Dennis with HIS VISION has brought together a group of people has changed the way F1 cars were designed, built and raced.”

        I would like to know what did he change about F1 cars designs. There’s one man who changed the way F1 cars were designed and he did so many times : it is COLIN CHAPMAN, the greatest engineer F1 has had.

      2. Pablo says:

        well, when Ron Dennis merged his project 4 team with McLaren, he revolutionised the way F1 cars chassis were built by using carbon fibre instead of aluminium.

    7. Kieran Martin says:

      Don’t think you’ve got your facts straight there Torrent.

      Firstly, the name of the McLaren car is the MP4-12C. Its engine is built by McLaren, and it is not McLaren’s first car – that mantle goes to the McLaren F1, although you’d be quite right in saying that the engine there wasn’t built in-house, it was a BMW engine.

      The MC12 you refer to is a Maserati

      1. Torrent says:

        I know the MC12 is a maserati (which in fact is a modified ENZO). As for the engine it is not built by Mclaren 100% sure.

      2. Eastuppertoff says:

        Engine is McLaren Design, built under license in the south of England by a recognised performance engine manufacturer of many years experience. It is definitely NOT German, nor made by a German company.

        Why did you introduce FIAT into a McLaren post anyway?

    8. Carl says:

      It’s not the 1st McLaren.. The McLaren F1 was the 1st and is an iconic 90s car and still one of the fastest in the world.

    9. Ted the Mechanic says:

      Wow, that’s quite a spiel!

      Fortunately you’ll never convince me that McLaren is some sort of 2nd-string wannabe Ferrari with no character or heritage.

      Whatever the source of your outburst, you just can’t deny McLaren their special place in F1 history and their absolute right to it.

      They paid their dues and they played their part, Ron Dennis had the clues and he had the heart, they pulled the stars because they had the smarts, Enzo may have built more supercars but Ron has made a start and like everything else he does he will make it work and he will make it pay and don’t you worry he’ll make sure they are just as beautiful as they are functional, furious and FAST…

      Good to have you back in the driver’s seat Ron.

      1. Torrent says:

        Nowadays building fast cars is an easy task, it is no longer the challenge it used to be. The only reason why McLAREN is building road cars is money, nothing else.
        The MCLAREN F1 was an engineer dream, a great car (with a BMW engine). This car is rubbish, it looks as any mid-engined car, nothing special about it.
        McLaren used FERRARI data in the past, the should use FERRARI design for their road cars. It will make their cars look prettier and they won’t be penalised by the FIA.

      2. Midnight Toper says:

        TORRENT,

        What a rant! McLaren are diversifying their business portfolio on order to ensure a sustainable and independent future. I am sure they gave long and hard thought about their market entry strategy. Most successful businesses these days pivot their product around a Unique Selling Point (you can abbreviate and capitalize that to USP). For McLaren this is their racing heritage and the exclusive lust and demand generated since the highly sought after but out of reach F1. What’s impressed me most is the price tag. I think they’ve got it just right and sensibly they haven’t priced themselves out of the market.

        As for Ferrari, they area business too, run by Fiat I may add. They are not built by pasion or emotion. They are built by money to make money, just like everything else. life.

      3. Doug says:

        I’m sorry Torrent but you seem to be looking at the world through Ferrari tinted spectacles.

        One of the reasons McLaren is moving into building road cars is the re-allocation of people from the F1 team due to the gradual introduction of ‘Resource restriction’. It should prevent them having to do what a number of the other big teams have done…lay off hundreds of talented people!

        To say that there was nothing special about the McLaren F1 is simply absurd…how many 3 seat mid engined cars has Ferrari made? It had a level of attention to detail that Ferrari are only now getting close to.

        Have you any proof that McLaren used Ferrari data in the past? As far as I was aware a Ferrari engineer (Nigel Stepney) handed over information to a McLaren engineer (Mike Coughlan). The fact that the FIA proved that this information was known by a number of McLaren personel was the reason that the FIA imposed such a huge fine on the team. I thought that the team had to prove that none of the information that they received was ever used on any of its cars…which it did!
        Your posting opinion based on supposition not facts & it does you a disservice.

    10. FletcherB says:

      I believe you are mistaken on several points…

      You may not believe this, and I cant offer any specific proof, but not all F1 fans that are not Ferrari fans are just specific driver fans… some us support a team that isnt Ferrari. (I’ll admit we are in a minority)

      Also if you dont know anyone apart from Enzo who mafe road cars to fund his love of racing rather than raced cars to advertise their road cars, I believe you should look up some dude called Colin Chapman in google or wikipedia, you might learn something.

      Also, the MC12 is not their first roadcar… you may have overlooked the McLaren F1 ? Or slightly stretching, maybe the M6GT

    11. PJ says:

      Got to pick you up on one point there. The MP4-12C is reported to be powered by British built engine, not German.

      (http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/McLaren-MP4-12C/242951/)

    12. David Turnedge says:

      A few comments:

      1. The road car is the second McLaren road car, not the first.

      2. The new McLaren road car features the first production injection moulded carbon fibre tub chassis – this is the future of most road cars given the need to reduce weight while improving strength for fuel savings. It’s a very futurist road car, my friend.

      3. If you look at the profile of the as-yet-for-sale F458 you’ll see a similar profile to the McLaren.

      I’m no fan of McLaren (or the first McLaren road car for that matter) but I respect what McLaren is doing with their company – I didn’t see Jordan, Prost, Arrows, Minardi, etc. do this with their businesses.

    13. phillip sanders says:

      Torrent, i read your post with great interest, i think you had some good points and agree with you – Mclaren will never be Ferrari!
      For many (me included) this is a good thing. I think Mr Dennis is smart enough to realise that he cant take on Ferrari at their own game and win. I believe he is trying to forge a different path, one built around engineering excellence and exclusivity, something Ferrari have lost.
      There is a new Ferrari out every year and every 10 bob, shade wearing, polo munching millionaire business man around here has got one, for me they have lost the x factor you were talking about, they are no longer the “Ali” of supercars.

      Bentley, Jaguar, Aston Martin and now Mclaren have forged their own heritage by taking on and beating Ferrari. They all started from zero, even the great Enzo, so to say the new Mclaren cannot be good purely because it doesn’t have the history is just silly. I would take the original Mclaren F1 over any Ferrari, new or old.
      I think the MP4-12c will Humble Ferrari in every department – Speed, comfort, reliability, exclusivity and in 10yrs time it will still have the awe factor, something a Ferrari has lost after 12 months

    14. Feynman says:

      It’s called the MP4-12C, named for the MP4-12 which too had brake-steer. The McLaren F1 was actually the first McLaren roadcar. It was kinda a big deal at the time, not sure how you missed it.
      I think the MC12 is actually an overstaffed MC5 tribute band. You should check.

      The engine is co-designed and co-manufactured with the UK drivetrain specialists Ricardo, who are based in Cambridge, Leamington and at Shoreham. Have you been skipping geography class again?

      Jaguar is owned by Tata and is therefore Indian; Aston Martin is owned by Dar and by Adeem and is therefore Kuwaiti.

    15. BigCatCarpo says:

      Sorry Torrent – but even as a Ferrari enthusiast I cannot possibly agree with you. For a start the McLaren F1 car is probably one of the finest supercars ever made – it was as ground-breaking as it was spectacular – it incorporated design ideas and technology never before seen on a road car – it may have used a BMW engine – but I believe that their current offering has an all McLaren engine – that is, it is completely in house. As far as heritage is concerned – Ferrari started off driving Alfa Romeos – years down the line he has a company with his name that surpasses Alfa Romeo. McLaren are well on their way to achieving the legendary staus they crave and deserve – and may yet surpass the level of reputation currently enjoyed by their rivals.

    16. Henry says:

      Oh and the engine is built by McLaren and is reported to be best in its class in terms of performace/power/weight etc…outstripping you beloved ferrari and german efforts…

    17. GP says:

      I’ll repeat what’s already been said, you obviously have a problem with McLaren.

      The fact that Ferrari is so popular is nothing more than ignorance on the part of the majority of those fans waving their Ferrari flags, whether Italians or others across the world. The glory days of Ferrari were brought about by a Frenchman running the team, a Brit as technical director, a South African as chief designer, and another Frenchman as chief of aerodynamics, and a German driver. Not very Italian. Where’s all that romanticism and passion and Latin blood and all? It took all these people to bring Ferrari a world championship after some 20 years of failure.

      As for their street cars, I’ve driven 2 different models on a race track and was massively disappointed. One was out of brakes about halfway around my first lap and the other’s steering was so heavy it was almost impossible to make those subtle corrections when you’re on the limit under braking or cornering. They’re expensive cars because expensive materials are employed but that’s about it. They’re good to cruise down main street and pick up loose women but if I want performance I’ll pick the McLaren over the Ferrari. Mercedes knew that and that’s why they partnered up with McLaren.

      Ron Dennis has his personality but there is no doubting his passion, professionalism, attention to detail, and flawless execution.

    18. Mike says:

      I doubt that Torrent has owned or driven a Ferrari – if he had he would know that until quite recently their roadcars were poorly put together and very unreliable.

      I had been a Ferrari fan from the late sixties until three or four years ago. My problem is that (for me) the F1 team and the road cars have lost their soul.

    19. El Shish says:

      That was a useful post. Not sure what it was in response to. What should Dennis, Mclaren and every one else in Formula One for that matter do? Give up and bow down to the might that is Ferrari?

    20. Barry says:

      Couldn’t desagree more.
      Please respond with a couple of Ferrari innovations in Forrmula 1′ They were the last team to go to disc brakes, monocoque chassis, and were late to the dance in ustilizing carbon fiber.
      Chapman gave us monocoques, and ground effects.
      McLaren gave us carbon fiber monocoques with the help of Hercules in Utah.
      Renault gave us turbos and pneumatic valve trains which allowed the engine rpms teams enjoy today with never a valva spring failure.
      What has ferrari done?
      Their road cars were poor until recently, needing constant attention to be able to be actually used.
      They aren’t designed in house either. Pinninfarrina is a separate entity.
      The Schumacher era was carried by British expertise. Ross Braun, John Barnard etc. Where were ferrari before that?
      In regard to Pagani, Aston Martin, and Jaguar, surely you jest. If I were diven one, I’d sell it with out even starting it up, and send Ron a deposit on an mpc4 12c.
      The last good looking Ferrari mid engine care was the 355.

    21. Carlos E. Del Valle says:

      When I go to a f1 race I always buy McLaren official stuff. I grew up In the 80s when Ferrari was a complete joke. Check youtube for a young Senna laughing At their pitstop. They got big thanks to FIAT money and a bunch of expensive Brawns Schumachers Todts and so on. Ferrari is becoming rubish again if you look carefully. Long live McLaren from a Brazilian fan.

    22. Pierre says:

      Lots of mistakes and misunderstood in your post.

    23. Steven says:

      What a load of rubbish!!

      As have been said, the MP4-12C is not the first Mclaren car, the F1 was the first. I don’t think Dennis is trying to be Ferrari, he has a vision for his company and he is executing that vision, independent of weather Ferrari exist or not. Building road cars is the next logical step.

      The engine is not German(its not Mercedes or BMW) its a proprietary McLaren design built in the UK. You seem to be very misinformed.

      “Every FORMULA1 fan is either fan of FERRARI or of a FORMULA1 driver.”

      Please, don’t put words in people’s mouth, I am first a Williams fan, McLaren second, and Hamilton third. I have never been a Ferrari fan, and will never be. To be honest, the last Ferrari I’ve liked is the F430, before that the 360 Modena, and before that the F40. Non of the newer cars really grab me. If I had to choose(I wish :)) between a Ferrari and a McLaren F1, I’d pick the F1, any day.

      Gumpert? Gumpert, are you serious? That’s one of the ugliest cars I have ever seen, its just, ugly. Ascari is a UK company started by a Dutch millionaire, and they have nothing to do with Alberto Ascari. Pagani(I’m Argentinean too) is a company started by an Argentinean, has a Mercedes engine and they are built in Italy, what heritage are alluding to? I do like the Paganis though.

      At least McLaren has some history in motor sports, you do know who Bruce McLaren was, right? They have been racing in some form or other(F1, Canam, Prototypes) since the mid 60s.

      Please, before you make a fool of yourself, get the facts! [mod]

      1. Stefanos says:

        It is clear that McLaren is trying to emulate Ferrari – even the line up of the cars is a copy of Ferrari’s: A 150k MP4/12C, a 200k+ and a sub-100k.

        It is not a bad model to aspire towards, but one must keep in mind that everyone other than Porsche continue failing at turning a profit in the supercar market. And Porche has been more profitable in the financial markets than in selling cars (much to the protest of several hedge funds). Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti are currently loss-making parts of the Audi/VW group (although it is not known by how much, as they do not provide detailed financial break-down – it is extrapolated from the other numbers). Aston Martin was loss-making for Ford who sold it attempting to cut costs. Smaller manufacturers like Pagani and Koenigsegg cater to the super-rich with ultra-exclusive and personalised supercars and yet cannot approach Ferrari’s profitability. Otherwise, Mercedes and Audi use the supercars they sell as a boost to the aspirational value of their brand and not as a boost to profitability which actually comes from the cheapest of their models.

        Ferrari is able to sell at margins well above any of the competition because its key asset, the brand, is amongst the most powerful and instantly recognizable global brands. This cannot be built overnight.

        The Ferrari of today owes a tremendous amount to Luca di Montezemolo who focused their efforts to reliability and usability. Today’s Ferraris are much more reliable than any competing product and are generally easy to drive on the limit, due to various innovations around differentials and traction controls.

      2. Steven says:

        So, because other manufacturers are posting loses McLaren shouldn’t try to sell super cars? They have a huge marketing vehicle in F1, they have been McLaren since 1966 and Dennis has been the “boss” since 1980, and the have been at the front for most of those years, McLaren is not Toro Rosso, they have a rich history in F1.

        I think McLaren would be selling super cars regardless of weather Ferrari existed or not, is Ferrari going to be their competition? Absolutely, but so will Porsche, and Lamborghini.

        Of course the line up emulates Ferrari’s line up, that’s the sector of the market they are aiming at. What is it with you Ferrari fans? Are you guys afraid of McLaren?

        Seriously, how many people on this blog will ever be able to buy one of these cars? I don’t think I ever will be able to afford one, but I don’t have this negativity(hatred?) towards Ferrari they way Ferrari fans do for McLaren.

    24. Freespeech says:

      What a strange view of the world you have, weird!
      McLaren are a superb company, one of the very best regardless as to the sector they’re in, they have a superb F1 team and are responsible for a history every bit as worthy of Ferrari who are now just a subsidiary of FIAT anyhow and not the company they were when the great man was alive, sad but true.
      If I was in the market for a new super car I would buy the new McLaren as I am sure many others will, I’d buy it because it is a McLaren and not a Ferrari, this is not taking anything away from Ferrari, I just prefer McLaren and the way they do things.
      What Ron Dennis has achieved is every bit as great as Enzo Ferrari, Frank Williams and Colin Chapman, to me these are the 4 non driver greatest names in the history of F1.
      Maybe you should try a different coffee as yours seems to be rather bitter.

    25. Calum says:

      “Every FORMULA1 fan is either fan of FERRARI or of a FORMULA1 driver”

      I accept that in good faith you might think that’s true (and based on the concentrations of Ferrari fans at race wekends it may even appear so) but other classic teams such as Williams, Renault and McLaren have plenty of supporters.

      Also, McLaren have been making road cars on and off since 1992.

    26. Andy C says:

      Did ron dennis and mclaren also cause the volcano eruption recently.

      Based on your other assumptions they must have.

      If you don’t like mclaren fine, but Ferrari had no heritage once and look how they developed. Same for lamborghini.

      Your bias does not rule out the fact that mclaren are a professional outfit who already have a great racing heritage (not to mention the f1 road car setting the standard for carbon fibre chassis that is now standard in supercars).

      I like Ferrari and their heritage, but heritage is earned over time. You cannot doubt mclarens racing heritage. Just go and look around all the winning cars at Woking.

    27. tank says:

      It is quite remarkable how many people have replied to this post and is indicative of the reader demographic. For one, it prooves beyond doubt (not that there ever was), that Ferrari is not the only team that have fans. Secondly, if you hadn’t posted, the comments section would have been very thin. So thanks for the entertainment, and for winding up all the macca fans.

    28. Calum says:

      Torrent…

      Just out of curiosity, why don’t you believe the McLaren V8 M838T engine isn’t a McLaren engine?

    29. Alex says:

      Ask someone who knows nothing about cars what their favourite car is and they will say Ferrari (most properly a red one), they wouldn’t be able to name a model mind. Working in London I’ll see one nearly every day driving around, far too common. Ferrari has lost what made them great lust, just checked (UK) auto trader and there are 433 second hand Ferraris for sale starting from £15K. I don’t see any F1s on there.

      McLaren might not have the Brand recognition yet but cleaver partnerships with TAG and Hugo Boss show you want to expect understated performance. They would get my money.

      1. Andy C says:

        That isn’t the price, it’s the annual running costs :-) My Porsche is the same.

    30. Érico says:

      Are you done wacking off for Ferrari?

  4. Steve McGill says:

    Excellent! Ron Dennis back. I wonder how much of a roll in the F1 team he’ll actually take on? Perhaps Whitmarsh is too fair ( !!! – or soft? ) and Ron can see a Senna/Prost situation ensuing? When Lewis comes good – which he will, I hope people don’t start saying it was BECAUSE of Mr Dennis’ intervention…

  5. DavidC says:

    He looks a bit like Marty Feldmarsh in that photo. ;^)

    But seriously, my impression has long been that Ron Dennis will hand over the keys to the whole operation to Whitmarsh when the time comes. Of course, that’s barring some sort of nasty split (F1 has plenty of those) but those two have been through a lot of trying times in the past several years and they seem to have weathered it well.

  6. Frenchie says:

    Good on Ron to try and build a legend a la Ferrari.

    I do feel it is going to indeed distract the race team. Also, further down the line, Button and Hamilton will compete with each other; whilst Alonso and Vettel will be clear number ones in their respective teams.

    Macca has not won the constructor’s title since 1998 and their ‘team’ racing policies aren’t helping.

    1. Steve Rogers says:

      What’s the evidence that “McLaren’s team racing policies aren’t helping”? I think Coulthard and their other non-champions just weren’t quite good enough to deliver them the Constructor’s championship.

      1. Frenchie says:

        What evidence?
        In 2007, they had the best car and the best drivers. They would have had the most points and still, they managed to let both titles go to Ferrari.
        In 2005, they had a very strong driver pairing in Kimi and JP as well as the fastest car and yet again, they managed not to win a single title.

        If McLaren wants to win, they either need a driver stronger than the other e.g. Button/Barrichello, Schumacher/Barrichello, Alonso/Fisichella or a Ferrari policy with a number one driver by mid-season.

      2. Calum says:

        In 2007 McLaren effectively won the Constructors crown only to have it taken off them. That’s a vindication of their racing policy not a condemnation of it.

    2. B D Maines says:

      I am not sure what effect their ‘team’ policies have on the constructors’ title.

  7. Robert says:

    Given how the Williams team seem to be dying before our very eyes it seems a no brainer that McLaren have to do this to avoid the same fate and ensure the company lives on post Ron Dennis. Hopefully the car will be as good as it looks. Ferrari fans seem to think everyone desires a shiny red car which to my eyes just look a bit too much like what a successful hair dresser would drive. Give me an Aston any day of the week. There was an interesting article on the Times F1 site regarding a trial McLaren electronics are doing with Surrey NHS, where they use telemetry developed by McLarean to monitor patients remotely. Its not about being another Ferrari, its about being a world class business and making the most of their fantastic brand

    1. Calum says:

      The Williams situation is worrying.

      They’re such a strong brand in motorsport terms (not to mention their rich history), surely they’re ripe for a white knight to come along and give them the Mclaren treatment?

      1. Steve says:

        As someone who began watching F1 in the mid-80s I find the ongoing decline of Williams quite sad. A once great team with a wonderful heritage and record of success in the sport now reduced to midfield status with little in the way of encouraging signs that they’ll bounce back to the front.

        It’s hard to see how Williams are going to remedy their current malaise without large scale investment or the team being sold to new owners with deep pockets.

        Sir Frank and Patrick will unfortunately not be around the sport forever, so perhaps the arrival of some fresh faces and ideas might help move the team forward.

        Unlike Ferrari and McLaren there is no road-car division at Williams and none of the luxury brand associations or image. Williams exists only to race in F1. Perhaps it’s single-purpose status and lack of diversity is holding the team back from sourcing additional investment in an age when the grid is full of large multi-faceted companies like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault, Red Bull and Virgin.

        James – any comments or thoughts on the current status of the Williams team and how it might move back up towards the front of the grid?

  8. BiggusJimmus says:

    I reckon the MP4-12C is pretty special. It’s a technical beast, maybe a little cold, but precise and refined in a savage fashion. Bit like Ron. I’ll take one.

  9. chris green says:

    The mclaren heritage is every bit as impressive as ferraris.

    Bruce Mclaren came to europe very much under the wing of Jack Brabham. you may recall they both worked for a team called Cooper who were beating Ferrari at the time with innovative small engine but good handling rear engined cars. Both Brabham and Mclaren had a leading hand in the design and construction of the Coopers. This was no mean feat for two home brew engineers from down under. Bruce won GP’s at a very young age and later formed his own team. Enzo Ferrari was contemptuous of these small British based teams calling them “The Garagistas.” The fact is Enzo just didn’t like being beaten. At this time teams like Cooper, Lotus and Mclaren were much more technically innovative than Ferrari. In fact Ferrari didn’t win a drivers title between 1964 and 1974. Mclaren also built successful F1 and Can Am sports cars. The Can Am cars were so successful that they used to call the Can AM championship the Bruce and Denny show.

    Bruce was killed in 1970 testing a Mclaren Can Am car at Goodwood. Under new management the team won the F1 title with Fittipaldi in ’74 and Hunt in ’76.
    In 1980 Ron Dennis bought Mclaren. (btw Dennis was a mechanic with Jack Brabham in 1970.)
    Mclaren went on to be one of the most successful F1 teams in history.

    Bruce Mclaren Ron Dennis and Jack Brabham loved nothing more than beating Ferrarri and now you can understand why.

  10. Peter says:

    The McLaren car looks quick and I think it will only get quicker which is a real concern for Red Bull and Ferrari, especially considering they have two WORLD CLASS drivers driving for them.

  11. Tom (London) says:

    I think it is interesting to compare and contrast McLaren with Williams.

    They have often been faced with the same difficulties and taken different routes. In the 90′s Williams resisted a BMW buyout which possibly lost them the opportunity to emulate McLaren’s success in the 90′s and 00′s with Mercedes.

    Now McLaren are trying moving there company in the direction of super car manufacture in order to avoid scaling down the company in the face of the budget cap where as I read that Williams are looking at selling there KERS system to bus as train manufactures.

    Different strategies, I wonder if either company will manage to break there reliance on F1.

    Personally I think Williams is heading in the right direction, I think in an increasingly environmental friendly world super cars as we know them might not have a place in the future.

    1. Mike says:

      Williams are already selling their KERS flywheel system to Porsche – they are going to fit it to all their new road cars.

      1. murray says:

        Didn’t know that. I would’ve loved to have seen Williams’ CVT raced. All this new austerity and innovation dieting is disappointing to me, I’ve always loved the technology wars. My F1 idols are Chapman, Bellamy, Gardner, Forghieri, Postlethwaite, Southgate, Coppuck, Murray, Barnard, Head, Newey and all of their peers, past and present.

      2. F1Novice says:

        Still might happen – with the smaller 1.5 turbo engines maybe coming in from 2013 – plenty of room for the Fly-wheel KERS system to be bolted on the back and by that time it would definitely of had enough real time testing done on it by Porsche – maybe we’ll see a Williams-Porsche on the grid in 2013 with KERS & Turbo Boost knobs – - now that would be good ! :)- ooh I smell overtaking opportunities coming :)

  12. Pierre says:

    To build the brand, they need to build their own engines. And with their F1 partnership with Mercedes for a few more years, I see them beeing able to get a lot of experience before they split, and a possible move to their own F1 engine too… they have enough human and money ressources for that. And that would of course help a lot for the image brand of the road cars. I think they’ll do it.

  13. r2p2a2c2o says:

    It would be nice to see a tv special on McLaren.

  14. Enrico Fiore says:

    may I ask the otr price of the road car?
    I’m guessing £300k+. and what about projected sales figures?Meanwhile racing drivers are supposed to take a sharp cut in wages, and skilled mechanics are laid off all along the pitlane

    1. BiggusJimmus says:

      Perhaps the skilled mechanics in the pitlane will find jobs in the road car division. The world is getting richer, not poorer. More and more supercars will be built and sold.

    2. RB says:

      They are aiming for a price of around £150k, which puts them into hi-end Porsche territory – a pretty lucrative market.

      At that price they should sell plenty, though their margins will likely be very slim.

  15. John says:

    Ron back in control of the racing team? Is that really true? I thought he had severed all ties and moved to the totally separate entity of McLaren Automotive in order to appease the Maximus. Great news if true but could you expand a little more on this James?
    Thanks!

  16. Rudy Pyatt says:

    I suspect that these moves may destabilize the team, at least in the short term. The mere presence of Ron Dennis in a more visible role will create distracting and questions that Martin Whitmarsh, and probably Lewis Hamilton, will have to deal with from here out.

    If Lewis gets on terms with Button, let alone beat him on a regular basis, Steve’s observation will come true – people will start saying that Ron has intervened.

  17. Érico says:

    They have the strongest driver pair and lead the WCC without having the dominant car. So I do expect them to win the WCC. As for the WDC, that depends entirely on their development pace. If they are able to maintain the very high development rate from previous seasons, then they should also take the WDC with either driver. Hamilton and Button are both more than capable of doing it.

    All that is missing from their puzzle, at the momment, is to be able to unlock their full qualifying potential. Which is more than we can say from Red Bull and Ferrari.

    1. James Allen says:

      Development is the key, you are right.

      1. BiggusJimmus says:

        The way they turned around the dog of a car they had at the start of season 2009 was something to behold. Looking forward to Barcelona to witness stage one of the 2010 metamorphosis.

    2. Tom says:

      First and foremost, I am a Mclaren fan so any agenda/bias would be toward them. Having said this, I believe the high development rate some credit them with is perhaps slightly exaggerated. In 2009 they were able to make up so much time (in hungary I think) because they were able to copy much of the aerodynamic work from the Brawn GP car. The Brawn car of last year was not dissimilar to their and the double diffuser and front wing endplate design that contributed the most were easily replicable (unlike Red Bull’s unique suspension design and coke bottle curves). Even at the last race they were still relying on KERS to offset a margin to the other teams that was due to a fundamental lack of downforce. This year they have more positives which again offset a slight downforce disadvantage (relative to the Red Bulls at least.

      1. They have the rear wing stalling device which is probably taking the other teams considerable man and wind tunnel hours to replicate (whilst Mclaren can develop other areas)

      2. They have two potentially race winning drivers. You would have to say Schumacher, Massa and perhaps even Webber have not stepped up yet.

      These reasons, along with Mclaren’s recent spate of correct strategy calls and reliability (fingers crossed), are why I voted for them.

      two things on their side why i voted

  18. Neil says:

    Ron dennis’s attention to detail is unbelievable, even if he is the most popular person

    Mclaren have the best two drivers in f1, think they’ll get the constructors this year

  19. JohnsonsEviltwin says:

    All this Anti McLaren and Anti Ferrari tit for tat is quite ridiculous.

    Both are great F1 names and belittling either is an excercise of futility.
    The facts in this piece however, is that McLaren are entering shark infested waters of the supercar world. On the back of this they owe Mercedes-Benz a phenomenal amount of money and are in the process of buying back their stake.

    Opening dealerships and developing the MP4-12C wouldnt have been cheap and Im not certain wether the Norman Foster designed factory is fully paid off yet either.

    Kudos to them for their bravery, but at what cost?

  20. Darren says:

    This will be an interesting Duel, Luca is stepping down from FIA and he might be more hands on and put more time on Ferrari, i wont be surprised to see Stefano moved to the road car division.

    McLaren are out to get some supercar share and Ferrari is huge in Bahrain.

    The McLaren Ferrari duel not only its on the race track but its moving out to road cars.

    I dont think McLaren and their Automotive groups would be where they are now had it been for big Ron’s guidance, on the other side, Enzo Ferrari’s right hand man Luca and the man Enzo put his trust on has done a brilliant job taking Ferrari to the top.

    I remember when Murray Walker said that Lotus ended when Colin Chapman passed away, it just shows that people like Ron and Luca have done great for their companies.

  21. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, you have talked about the future of McLaren….what about the future of Lewis Hamilton??

    I understand that his contract is up at the end of 2012, so I guess that he’ll probably start to negotiate from 2011?

    I know it’s early… but any insight or feelings on this?

    1. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

      If McLaren starts racing in Tour De France in 2012, Lewis will be riding their push bike. How’s that for his contract with McLaren? Come on mate, Lewis is McLaren’s baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Freespeech says:

    Firstly, it’s great to have Ron Dennis back involved with the McLaren F1 team albeit indirectly as McLaren’s Chairman.
    I think McLaren will win the constructors but I fear they may loose out on the drivers as each will take points off the other whereas, to me it looks like each of the other top 3 teams have by means of speed or performance has a lead driver in Vettel. Rosberg and Alonso.
    Maybe, should the next few races be dry we’ll have one (Lewis is my bet as I think Jenson’s been lucky to date) of the McLaren drivers forge ahead but if one doesn’t it’ll hurt them for the drivers championship for certain.

  23. mvi says:

    Business-wise I think it is a brilliant and well-planned move that McLaren chose this time to announce the regional sales centre in Bahrain, putting itself in direct competition with Ferrari. The timing with the Shanghai GP followed by the Beijing Auto Show could not have been better.

    Clearly the most important, lucrative, expanding market for expensive status cars right now is China. The McLaren business model appears similar to Ferrari’s with F1 and the sports cars supporting each other in synergy.

    So. the McLaren 1-2 win at Shanghai must have been more than gratifying for McLaren, indeed the timing was a promoter’s dream. I am sure whatever the F1 team could possibly ask for in development now, they will get!

  24. David T says:

    Personally I think the fact that Mclaren have only one constructors title in the past NINETEEN years is very telling. They can’t blame a lack of resources or driving talent.

    1. murray says:

      Telling of what?

      1. David T says:

        Their underachievements.

        Mercedes would have expected more return for their money.

  25. FB says:

    Please stop saying Spygate and Liegate, unless you actually want to sound like a football pundit in the news of the world.

  26. Roland says:

    Im surprised with all this talk of Ferrari VS McLaren – no one has thought of the fact that if you want a seriously dominant car – hire Adrian Newey as your designer. Typically his Redbull, McLaren and Williams cars were all rather fast…

    Anyway wishing McLaren all the success in future as its always nice to see a British team do well!

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