McLaren is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the team’s first appearance at a Formula 1 race at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
McLaren first took part in the F1 world championship at the 1966 Monaco race when founder Bruce McLaren entered a chassis bearing his own name: the M2B. A McLaren statement described that car as “overweight and under-prepared” and the New Zealander retired after nine laps due to an oil leak.
The team has since gone on to win 182 races, 12 drivers’ titles and eight constructors’ championships and it has released a special video that charts McLaren’s progress in F1 and features many of the memorable moments of the squad’s history.
McLaren is also the most successful team, in number of victories, at the Monaco Grand Prix as its cars have won in the principality on 15 occasions. No other team is in double figures.
Ayrton Senna’s five consecutive triumphs, out of his career total of six at Monaco, all came aboard a McLaren.
But the British team has not faired so well at F1’s most famous race in recent seasons and its most recent win came in 2008, courtesy of Lewis Hamilton.
With Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso only 10th and 12th in the second practice session for this year’s edition of the Monaco Grand Prix, a 16th McLaren win appears unlikely at this stage.
Alonso won the Monaco race in 2007 during his first one-season stint with the team, and the double world champion described McLaren’s growth over its first 50 years of F1 racing.
He said: “It’s hard to believe that the whole team in Monaco back in 1966 comprised only six people – including Bruce and his wife! – but it’s proof of how much you can grow and develop something with sheer passion and determination.”
Button, who has chalked up eight wins for the team since he joined at the start of 2010, described how McLaren feels like a “quintessential British grand prix team”.
He said: “Despite its roots in New Zealand, McLaren feels like the quintessential British grand prix team – it’s been based in the UK for its entire lifetime – half a century – and has a set of values and sense of sporting fair-play unlike any other team in Formula 1.”
What do you make of McLaren’s 50th anniversary? Can the team achieve a special result to mark the occasion this weekend? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.