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F1 Opinion 14

Well done to McLaren

The McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 team may not have won either Drivers’ or Constructors’ World Championships this year, and no doubt that hurts. But they have won more Grands Prix than any other team since 1966. And they have now ‘locked out’ the front row of the grid on 62 occasions which is a world record. So at least they have something to smile about in Woking.

Since Bruce McLaren won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1968, driving his orange M7A with the Kiwi badge on the front, the team has scored 182 victories. Next up is Ferrari on 180. Now that will make them smile, even if Chairman of the McLaren Group Ron Dennis would much prefer it if they won every race.

opinion  Well done to McLaren

“We go to every race to win,” he is fond of saying, “second is just the first of the losers.”

It has taken McLaren 46 years to overhaul the Scuderia, a feat they achieved when Lewis Hamilton won in Texas and put them one win ahead. Just two weeks later, when Jenson Button prevailed at Interlagos, they were two ahead.

Bruce would surely be proud of this, though he probably never imagined that McLaren would exist in its current form, never mind sit at the top of the post-1966 charts.

Alan Henry, one of my journalistic heroes, recently wrote about that first McLaren victory at Spa for the team’s excellent website. Alan reminded us all that Bruce didn’t realise he’d won that afternoon in the Ardennes. I borrow this piece from Alan’s story.

“He pulled up at the exit of La Source to save himself the stress and strain of an extra nine-mile down lap. Looking up he saw the cheery visage of rival BRM chief mechanic Cyril Atkins. ‘You crossed the line number one,’ shouted Atkins.

“Bruce was momentarily confused as his M7A carried race number five. Then he got the point as Atkins shouted, ‘you’ve won, didn’t you know?’”

opinion  Well done to McLaren

At Interlagos Hamilton and Button gave the team its 62nd front row ‘lock-out’, a nice leaving present from Lewis on pole, and a reassuring end to a tough season for Jenson who went on through the mist and rain to give them their 182nd victory. “I feel good about next year,” said Jenson after the race, “things bode well.” We will get the first clues when we go to Melbourne in March.

Raceday in Sao Paulo was also Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Norbert Haug’s 60th birthday, so at least he had something to smile about while the factory team yet again failed to make an impression. He must be looking forward to seeing the ballsy Hamilton in his car next year, Lewis is well known for his ability to drive the wheels off a less than perfect racing car.

So well done McLaren for reaching this landmark in their illustrious history. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the racing team that Bruce founded in his workshop at Colnbrook. We should give thanks to him as we celebrate a half century for one of the great Grand Prix teams.

Add your comments

14 comments on Well done to McLaren

  1. PeteH, 30 November 2012 10:25

    There was a time, 1993 I think(?), when McLaren topped the all-time winners list for F1 since 1950. Sadly there followed a ‘troubled’ period with the abortive Peugeot and Mercedes engines.

  2. PeteH, 30 November 2012 10:33

    That should read … abortive Peugeot and troubled development of the Mercedes engines.

  3. Richard Craig, 30 November 2012 11:28

    Says a lot really, when Ferrari started winning 17 years before them

  4. Alex Harmer, 30 November 2012 11:39


    These stats don’t include those 17 years, Ferrari is still ahead 219-182 all-time.


  5. Michael Spitale, 30 November 2012 13:31

    this year reminded me of ’05 at McLaren. They had the fastest car then as well, but reliability was nowhere to be found. Kimi had 40 grid penalties due to engine changes in one year.

    Lewis did have his share of crashes as usual(not all his fault) but the car breaking down cost him at least 2 maybe 3 wins.

    If they can keep the car together next year they could be title bound

  6. IM, 30 November 2012 13:33

    Too bad they cost Hamilton the World Championship this year….

  7. Ray in Toronto Canada, 30 November 2012 14:27

    Mr Widdows, Sir!

    Greetings from a freezing cold Toronto! ( – 3 degrees C)

    When I read the header, I kinda chuckled because I thought it was about the 2012 Formula One season and not about their history.

    I enjoyed reading your piece. McLaren have done extremely well historically.

    Mr Dennis did a great, great job bringing World Champions and World Championships and making World Champions 1982 – 1999.

    Alas, it’s been less than fertile ground since the Hakkinen days. Only 1 out of a possible 26 World Championships since then (WDC, 2008).

    In 2010 I think Vettel’s numerous mechanical woes and his tangles with Webber (Turkey) and Button (Spa) left room for Hamilton to take a possible title…but Hamilton had some errors later in the season too and, so, it didn’t fall their way.

    In 2011 I think Hamilton’s head wasn’t in it fully and, as a result, there could have been *some* challenge to Vettel…but the German was let off the hook and never got the pressure Hamilton *could* have exerted.

    In 2012, it’s been down to McLaren. McLaren cost Hamilton three wins (Spain, Singapore, Abu Dhabi) and handfulls of points with some atrocious pitstops.

    Theoretically it should have been McLaren’s and Hamilton’s year…but those 3 blown victories made Hamilton sign for Mercedes and Button being totally lost and bemused mid season made the WCC suffer.

    I think they’re in for some tough times without a truly Top Line Ace in their car for 2013.

    Good luck to them. They’ll need it.

  8. Alastair Warren, 30 November 2012 16:48

    Didn’t Hamilton equal the number of poles Hakkinen got while with McLaren on Sunday?

    Mr Dennis was pretty good in the most recent McLaren TOONED animation along with Button telling Hamilton he had to make a choice.

    Perhaps they’ll be some orange on the McLarens next year to celebrate the anniversary?

  9. Bill, 30 November 2012 17:55

    *disclaimer at the bottom*

    I thought well done to McLaren for producing arguably their best car in years in 2012 and id agree with that. But comparing their stats since 1966 with my beloved Ferrari? How dare you say such things!

    Ferrari builds its own engines, McLaren never had to worry about that, and could devote up to 1000 people to just building a race chassis.

    And what did they do with that? One measly constructors title in 21 years! The last one dating back 14 years ago, with the notion that it was a Newey car. (People love to point out Red Bull only wins bcs of Newey, well, eat your heart out with McLaren then; he was with them for 10 years and they couldnt get the best out of him.)

    Is that stat alone not reason enough to sing a somewhat lower tone in your praises? Or is it that Red Bull is catching up very fast beating all stats of McLaren in a very, very rapid rate, that you now somehow feel compelled to write this rather misplaced article before its too late and Red Bull steals all the limelight not only from Lewis Hamilton (where was his ballsy attitude in Melbourne 2012, or Malayasia 2012, Rob Widdows?) but also McLaren when they win a fourth consecutive constructorstitle in 2013, equaling a record only McLaren and Ferrari hold.

    *This comment is written by a disgruntled Ferrari fan, frustrated by the impotence of Domencali C.S., to produce a proper championship fighting car. That is something McLaren nearly always have managed to do, and despite not making their own engines, thats praiseworthy indeed.

  10. Gilraen, 30 November 2012 18:15

    Thanks for this uplifting article abt my fav team!

  11. wayfarer, 30 November 2012 22:31

    Motor Sport should put Jenks’ race report for the 1968 Belgium Grand Prix on line as soon as possible. He commentated from the viewpoint of a fan rather than as the Continental Correspondent and tried/succeeded in putting across the excitement of the race. To one 18 year old at A level time it seemed a very exciting, not to say diverting, piece of journalism.

  12. chris b, 1 December 2012 09:10

    nice to hear from you Rob, you’ve seemed a bit absent recently,

    re McLaren, to me its a nearly team, so many resources and talented people, so well organised – why hasn’t it won a constructors championship for so long? ok Max had a problem with Ron and that may have had implications – I don’t know, i just think this year, two very talented drivers both capable of winning the championship – weren’t there, ok mechanical failures happen, as do accidents that one doesn’t have control of other’s driving but notwithstanding – i would be very disappointed that Lewis wasn’t leaving us as world champion.

  13. rob widdows, 1 December 2012 13:15

    Hey, thanks so much everyone for all these comments and yes, what a great idea, let’s put the Jenks article on the website. Maybe we should do that more often. Ah, the joys of writing for a magazine that is read and appreciated by REAL racing fans.
    Yep, not been as active here as usual, for many reasons. I try to write something every week but just lately I’ve been sidetracked by many other tasks. This is the Christmas holiday factor, lots of stuff to get done way in advance because of print deadlines over the holiday period. I won’t be doing much for the next two weeks because I’m having an operation on my right hand and I do not type at all well with one hand!
    Anyway, thanks again for joining in with so many pithy comments, and I will do my best to get back on line as soon as I can.
    I wonder if Adrian Newey has written to Father Christmas asking him for a box of those Hyundai alternators that come with a seven-year warranty. I guess Signor Alonso just wants a fast Ferrari developed in a wind tunnel that works. And Kimi? A case of fine wine and some holiday should do just fine.
    Back soon.

  14. John, 3 December 2012 14:38

    I’d have put Kimi down as a beer drinker, myself. :-)

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