McLaren Owners Club

McLaren, founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren (1937–1970), is a Formula One team based in Woking, Surrey, UK. McLaren is best known as a Formula One constructor but has competed in the Indianapolis 500 and Canadian-American Challenge Cup.

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The Complete History of McLaren

A McLaren M1A sports car of 1964, the first McLaren racing car.

McLaren, founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren (1937–1970), is a Formula One team based in Woking, Surrey, UK. McLaren is best known as a Formula One constructor but has also competed in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and Canadian-American Challenge Cup. The current team was formed by the merger of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing with Project Four Racing in 1981. The team is managed by Ron Dennis and is part of McLaren Racing, a member of the McLaren Group. Engines are supplied by McLaren shareholder Mercedes-Benz through Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines.

McLaren is one of the most successful teams in Formula One, having won over 150 races, 11 Drivers' Championships and 8 Constructors' Championships. Autosport judges McLaren to have "bigger, more sophisticated" technical resources than any other team and a resultant higher development rate throughout a season. However it states that "operationally it is not as slick [as Ferrari], and this typically shows during moments of high stress. In such moments it's a team with a tendency to rely too much on its vast technical databank and not enough on the intuition of a single person making the call.

Racing History

Bruce McLaren Motor Racing was founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren, initially as a builder of sports cars. The team built and raced a series of cars powered by American v-8's in various races in Canada and the US. The team was transformed in 1967 when they introduced the Mk6, the first cars in McLaren orange, and completely dominated the 1967 Can Am series.

The Kiwi made the team’s Grand Prix debut at the 1966 Monaco race. However, Bruce’s race was rather short-lived due to a terminal oil leak on the car. The 1966 programme was hampered by a poor choice of engines—Bruce had selected a short-stroke version of the 4.2 litre Ford Indy engine, which generated a lot of noise but very little power and was big and bulky. Ironically, Jack Brabham had adopted a Repco-developed engine based on a similar Oldsmobile block to the one Bruce was using in his early sports cars and his team took the 1966 and 1967 world championships.

Bruce McLaren driving the McLaren M7C at the Nürburgring in 1969.Bruce abandoned the Ford in favour of a woefully underpowered but at least reliable Serenissima V8 (a descendant of the old ATS V8) to score the team's first point. In 1967 he initially turned to a slightly enlarged M4 Formula Two car powered by a 2.0 litre BRM V8 before building a similar but slightly larger car called the M5 for the BRM V12. This was quick but had reliability problems and Bruce soon decided that the team had to adopt the Cosworth DFV engine.

Original McLaren kiwi logo; a New Zealand icon.In 1966 and 1967 the team raced only one car in the Championship with Bruce behind the wheel. In addition to his Grand Prix duties, Bruce contested the Can Am Championship that year and, alongside team mate Denny Hulme, the pair won five out of the season’s six races.

Bruce McLaren in 1966. Team principal from 1966 to 1970In 1968 with the Cosworth powered M7 the team consisted of two drivers including reigning Formula One World Champion Denny Hulme who also drove for McLaren in Can Am that year. Bruce won the non-championship Race of Champions, at the Brands Hatch circuit, then the Belgian Grand Prix was the scene of the team's first Championship win. Hulme won the Italian Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix later in the year.

A further three podium finishes followed for Bruce in 1969, but the team's fifth win had to wait until the last race of the 1969 championship when Hulme won the Mexican Grand Prix. In Can Am the McLaren team won all eleven races. Bruce McLaren won six races, Hulme five, and Bruce won the driver's championship.


The McLaren M19C, with its distinctive Yardley sponsorship.
Emerson Fittipaldi in a M23 at the 1974 British Grand Prix.

The M26 was used from 1977 to 1979, but was not as successful as its predecessor.As a team, McLaren had a disastrous beginning to the decade. The team entered the Indianapolis 500 for the first time but Hulme was severely burned on the hands in an incident in practice. Peter Revson replaced Hulme but retired from the race. Bruce's business partner Teddy Mayer took over effective control of the team.

On 2 June 1970 Bruce McLaren was killed in a crash at Goodwood while testing the new M8D Can Am car. While travelling at 170 mph (270 km/h), a fastener for the rear bodywork failed and the entire rear piece detached from the car. The car spun into a concrete marshal post and McLaren was killed instantly. Twelve days after Bruce McLaren's death Dan Gurney won the opening Can Am race of 1970 at Mosport for McLaren. The McLaren M8D won nine of the ten races in 1970 and Hulme won the championship. In 1971 the team saw off the challenge of 1969 World Champion Jackie Stewart in the Lola T260, winning eight races, with Peter Revson taking the title.

McLaren went winless in Formula 1 in 1970 and 1971, years dominated by Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart respectively. Hulme took the team's first F1 win since Bruce's death in the 1972 South African Grand Prix with the M19C. Hulme also won three Can Am races in 1972 but the McLaren M20 was defeated by the Porsche 917/10s of Mark Donohue and George Follmer. McLaren decided to abandon the Can Am series at the end of 1972, focussing solely on Formula One and USAC. The original Can Am series itself ceased at the end of 1974, with McLaren by far the most successful constructor with 43 wins.

In USAC competition Peter Revson had won pole position for the 1971 Indianapolis 500 in a McLaren M16. The M16 introduced to USAC competition the concept of mounting the car's engine entirely ahead of the rear axle, rather than partly over it, as was the standard at the time. The car also wore prominent front and rear wings, another practice not common in American racing. Revson finished second in 1971, and Mark Donohue won the '500' in 1972 driving a McLaren-Offenhauser run by Roger Penske.

The McLaren M23, designed by Gordon Coppuck, was the team's new car for the 1973 Formula One season. It was described by Coppuck as being essentially the front of an M16 and the back of an M19. It was a wedge-shaped car following the same concept as the Lotus 72 but with more conventional suspension and up to date aerodynamics. Hulme won with it in Sweden and Revson took the only Grand Prix wins of his career in Britain and Canada. At Indianapolis, Johnny Rutherford took pole position in the "works" M16C.

In 1974 Emerson Fittipaldi joined McLaren, now under the direction of Teddy Mayer, from Lotus to become their lead driver. The team achieved their first Formula One World Constructors' and World Drivers' Championship (with Fittipaldi) and their first Indianapolis 500 win (with Johnny Rutherford). The year also saw Yardley cosmetics replaced as Formula One sponsor by Marlboro cigarettes (although one Yardley car was run by an ostensibly separate team for the year alongside the two Marlboro entries), a deal that was to last until 1997. 1975 was a less successful year for the team. Fittipaldi was second in the championship behind Niki Lauda. Jochen Mass took his sole GP win in Spain, and Rutherford was second at Indianapolis. At the end of 1975 Fittipaldi left McLaren to join his brother's Fittipaldi/Copersucar team.

The Drivers' Championship would come McLaren's way again in 1976 with Fittipaldi's replacement, James Hunt beating Niki Lauda by a single point. Meanwhile Johnny Rutherford scored McLaren's second Indianapolis 500 victory, with the team becoming the first team to twice accomplish both feats in the same year. Hunt won three times in F1 in 1977, but these would prove to be McLaren's last GP wins of the decade. The M23's replacement, the M26 was a troublesome car, and subsequent models were even less successful. McLaren ended their American involvement at the end of the 1979 CART season after increasingly poor returns from the series.

1980s and early 1990s dominance
Alain Prost in his McLaren MP4/2B at the 1985 German Grand Prix.
Equipped with Honda power and the driving strength of Prost and Ayrton Senna for 1988,

McLaren dominated the season, winning all but one race. Senna won his first world championship after a season-long battle with Prost.
Senna won his third and final world championship for McLaren in 1991.The current McLaren F1 team resulted from a merger of the McLaren team and Ron Dennis' personal Formula 2 team, called Project Four Racing, in 1980. Project Four was also backed by Marlboro, and had designer John Barnard and an innovative carbon-fibre F1 chassis design but no money and inadequate facilities for F1; McLaren had the facilities but were at the end of a long losing streak. John Hogan, a Philip Morris executive, forced McLaren chairman Teddy Mayer to accept the merger with Dennis' team. This was in effect a reverse takeover with the Formula One constructor becoming McLaren International.

In 1981 Dennis and his business partners bought out the other McLaren shareholders, Mayer and Tyler Alexander. In 1983 Dennis persuaded then Williams backer, Mansour Ojjeh to become a partner in McLaren International. Ojjeh invested in Porsche built turbocharged engines which carried the name of his company, Techniques d'Avant Garde (TAG).

The nomenclature for McLaren's F1 cars since the merger has caused some confusion among fans of the sport, as all McLaren cars since 1981 have carried designations of the form "MP4/x", or since 2001 "MP4-x, where x is the generation of the chassis (e.g. MP4/1, MP4-22). In fact, "MP4" stood initially for "Marlboro Project 4, so that the full title of the cars (McLaren MP4/x) reflected not only the historical name of the team, but also the names of the team's major sponsor and its new component part. The team's cars still use the same nomenclature, but since the change of title sponsor for the 1997 season, MP4 is now, rather conveniently, said to stand for McLaren-Project 4. At no time has the "MP4" prefix reflected the particular generation of the chassis.

The most successful period in McLaren's history came under the early leadership of Ron Dennis. John Barnard designed the revolutionary McLaren MP4/2 chassis, the first F1 chassis made entirely of carbon-fibre composites, which proved very strong when mated to the TAG/Porsche turbo engine, designed and built to Barnard's specifications. A succession of strong drivers helped, with Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg, and Stefan Johansson driving for the team in this period. McLaren-Porsche won the Constructors' title in 1984 (with Lauda taking the Drivers' crown), and 1985 (with Prost winning his first world title). McLaren did not win the Constructors' Championship in 1986, although Prost took the drivers' title again.

After losing the previous two Constructors titles to Williams in 1986 and 1987, McLaren was able to convince Honda to switch its backing from Williams starting in 1988. The McLaren-Honda MP4/4 won an amazing 15 of 16 races that year and leading all but 27 laps, achieving a staggering and unbeaten record to this date. (Senna had been leading comfortably at Monza, but collided with back-marker Jean-Louis Schlesser's Williams.) Ayrton Senna took the driver's title that season, his first with the Woking marque.

The next year, using a new 3.5 L naturally-aspirated engine designed by Honda, McLaren again won both titles with the McLaren MP4/5, with Alain Prost clinching it at the Japanese Grand Prix after a highly controversial collision with his teammate Senna. This was the culmination of a vitriolic feud between the two men. Believing that Honda and Ron Dennis viewed Senna as the future of the team, Prost announced on July 1989 that he would not resign with the team. By Suzuka, the Brazilian had two cars and 20 people around him, while the Frenchman had one car with maybe four or five mechanics. In support of Senna, who had finished the race first but was subsequently disqualified, McLaren appealed unsuccessfully.

Alain Prost left to join the Ferrari team in 1990. Nevertheless, McLaren continued to top Formula One for the next two seasons. Despite stiff challenges from Prost's Ferrari and Nigel Mansell's Williams, Senna won the World Drivers' Championship in 1990 and 1991, respectively, using the MP4/6 V12. McLaren also won the constructors title in both of those years. New teammate Gerhard Berger helped to ensure this double success and the McLaren drivers often played pranks on each other to lighten the atmosphere.

Mid-1990s decline
By 1993, Honda had withdrawn from F1 and the team used underpowered Ford V8 engines to power the MP4/8. Although Ayrton Senna (pictured at the German GP) won five races, McLaren was not a match for the dominant Williams team. After the 1993 Australian Grand Prix, the team failed to win a race until 1997.Beginning in 1992, McLaren's dominance began to be eroded by the ascendant Renault-powered Williams, a drop in form that was compounded by the departure of Honda from Formula One at the end of that season.

McLaren switched to customer Ford engines for the 1993 season. While these proved competitive in the hands of Senna, American Michael Andretti's season was a disaster, scoring only a handful of points. He was replaced before the end of the year by Finnish youngster Mika Häkkinen. Senna had played a game of brinkmanship with Dennis over his contract at the start of the season, but as it became obvious that the MP4/8 was competitive he agreed to complete the season. During 1993 McLaren experimented with a Lamborghini V12 which Senna reckoned was worth racing; Dennis chose a works deal with Peugeot instead, Lamborghini's owners Chrysler pulled the plug on the F1 programme and Senna departed for Williams at the end of the season after winning the final two races of the year. Concluding the season on a high, McLaren announced they were to begin a challenge for the land speed record. However, as results began to decline in the following seasons the plan was quietly shelved.

For 1994 Martin Brundle joined Häkkinen in new Peugeot-powered cars. The results and the engine were unimpressive, and Peugeot was dropped after a single year in favour of the promising new Mercedes-Benz (Ilmor) engine. But 1995 was even worse, with the radical MP4/10 proving to be too heavy and slow. Former world-champion Nigel Mansell came to the team, but had a torrid time — he was unable to fit into the car at first—and retired after just two races with Mark Blundell taking his place.

1996 was the end of an era for McLaren, as they parted company with long-term sponsors Marlboro, and the famous red and white McLaren livery disappeared from Formula One to be replaced with Reemtsma's West branding and a silver Mercedes livery in 1997.

Late 1990s return to form
While Williams dominated F1 in 1996 and 1997, McLaren made slow, careful strides with its Mercedes-Ilmor engine and drivers Häkkinen and David Coulthard. Coulthard made a promising start to the 1997 season by winning the Australian Grand Prix. The car was not good enough to consistently win grands prix, although Coulthard was successful late at the Italian Grand Prix.

Mika Häkkinen won the 1998 and 1999 world drivers' championships for McLaren, with the team also taking the constructors' crown in 1998. He is shown here at the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix, an event which he won.At the 1997 Austrian Grand Prix, Darren Heath, an F1 Racing photographer, noticed that the rear brakes of the McLarens were glowing red in an acceleration zone of the track. The magazine discovered through investigation that McLaren had installed a second brake pedal, selectable by the driver to act on one of the rear wheels. This allowed the driver to eliminate understeer and reduce wheelspin when exiting slow corners, or more usefully as slowing one half of the car to turn the car into a corner and so brake later deep into the heart of the turn. Though the car passed scrutineering this system was not entirely legal, but was an innovation, and hence gave McLaren an advantage. As the system allowed one side of the car to be retarded compared to the other the system was considered a type of four-wheel steering which was banned in F1. One notable backer of this complaint was Jackie Stewart; on the grid at Brazil in 1998 he aired this view in an interview with ITV. While F1 Racing suspected what McLaren were doing, they required proof to publish the story. At the Luxembourg Grand Prix the two McLarens retired from the race. This allowed Heath to take a picture of the footwell of Häkkinen's car and the second brake pedal. The story was run in the November issue of F1 Racing and led to the system being dubbed the "fiddle brake". Ferrari's protestations to the FIA lead to the system being banned at the 1998 Brazilian Grand Prix.

During 1997 McLaren poached Williams' talented designer, Adrian Newey. Then Mika Häkkinen offered a taste of things to come with his victory in the final race of the 1997 season, the European Grand Prix.

The fact that McLaren now had Adrian Newey on board, coupled with the withdrawal of Renault at the end of 1997 allowed McLaren to mount a strong challenge in 1998, with one source even stating that McLaren had built such a strong team that the only way to increase their championship hopes was to hire double world champion Michael Schumacher. In 1998 the McLaren was once again able to regularly challenge for Grand Prix victories, winning nine grands prix that year. Häkkinen won the Drivers' Championship in 1998, scoring 100 points, and McLaren took the Constructors' Championship in 1998. Häkkinen took the title again in 1999, but the season was more difficult for the team who lost the Constructors' Championship to Ferrari despite an injured Schumacher.

Members of the McLaren Formula One team push driver Kimi Räikkönen's MP4-19 into the garage during qualifying for the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2004.2000 was another closely-fought season, but ultimately Ferrari's Michael Schumacher prevailed.

Ron Dennis, team principal 1980-Present Day, at the 2000 Monaco Grand PrixSince 2000, McLaren has struggled somewhat to regain its place at the top of Formula One, partly due to a perceived lack of pace and reliability from the Mercedes-Benz engine. In 2001, Mika Häkkinen dropped off the pace in comparison with Coulthard, although neither driver could compete with the now dominant combination of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. In 2002 Häkkinen took a sabbatical (which turned into retirement), opening the way for promising compatriot Kimi Räikkönen to take his place. McLaren only captured four wins over the following three seasons. 2002 saw just a single win at Monaco for Coulthard while rivals Ferrari won all but two races.

2003 started very promisingly, with wins at the two first grands prix of the year, one each for Coulthard and Räikkönen. However, rival teams soon caught up as McLaren was severely hampered in by the development of the MP4-18, a radical new design which due to reliability problems never raced. This forced the team to use the year-old MP4-17D, a very severe handicap in modern Formula One racing. However, despite this, Räikkönen finished in the points consistently and challenged Michael Schumacher for the championship all the way up to the very last race, eventually losing the title by only two points.

The team began the 2004 Formula One season with the MP4-19, which technical director Adrian Newey described as a "debugged version of the MP4-18." This proved to be anything but the case, and a new car was required by mid-season. The MP4-19B was basically an all new car with a radically redesigned aerodynamic package. The fact that Coulthard qualified third for its first race, the French Grand Prix, gave the team hope of a better end to the season. This was realised when Räikkönen won the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix ahead of the seemingly unstoppable Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, who won 13 of the 18 races that year, currently the record for most wins in a single season.

Kimi Räikkönen nearly won the Drivers' Championship in 2005.Colombian driver and former CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya was named as Coulthard's replacement for the 2005 season, partnering Räikkönen. Montoya had to be replaced for two races by test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz after sustaining a shoulder injury while playing tennis. In the first few races of 2005 McLaren lost a lot of ground to Renault in both championships. At the San Marino Grand Prix McLaren seemed to have the quickest car on the grid, however while leading Räikkönen was subject to a driveshaft failure.

While McLaren were generally able to maintain this distinct speed advantage for most of 2005, the general unreliability of the car cost them a number of race victories when Räikkönen had been leading or in contention to win. Renault (and Fernando Alonso in particular) were able to capitalise on the McLarens' breakdowns. However, after Alonso clinched the Driver's title in Brazil, he and the Renault team abandoned their conservative approach; by common consent the Renault R25 was a close match for the McLaren at the penultimate Japanese Grand Prix and at the Chinese Grand Prix, where Montoya hit a loose drain cover and retired from the race, effectively ending McLaren's chances of winning the Constructors' World Championship title.

Reflecting on an exciting and competitive but ultimately frustrating season for the team, Ron Dennis remarked that "We feel our championship efforts were thwarted by our conservative approach to the first four races.

On 19 December 2005, the team announced the signing of the 2005 World Drivers' Champion Fernando Alonso to drive for the team from the 2007 Formula One season.

The 2006 McLaren-Mercedes car, the MP4-21, proved to be less successful than its predecessor.The 2006 season saw McLaren introduce a new, chrome livery for their MP4-21. The team was positive about its chances in the upcoming championship after the performances in the latter half of 2005. However, in winter testing it became clear that the Mercedes engine was lacking in power. Mercedes responded by introducing a new spec engine which offered far improved performance.

The first race weekend of the season at Bahrain began badly with Kimi Räikkönen suffering a suspension failure in qualifying, resulting in him crashing out and having to start from the back of the grid. However Räikkönen was able to make his way up to third and a podium, along with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. McLaren team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya finished fifth, complaining of car setup problems. Juan Pablo Montoya parted company acrimoniously with the team after the United States Grand Prix, in which he ended both his and team mate Räikkönen's hopes for the race by crashing into him at the start. He announced he was departing to race NASCAR for Chip Ganassi Racing, and was provisionally replaced by Pedro de la Rosa, which in the end lasted for the remainder of the season.

Following the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari confirmed that they had signed Räikkönen as a replacement for the retiring Michael Schumacher. The season continued with the McLarens being near the top of the field, but the superior reliability and speed of the Ferraris and Renaults prevented the team from gaining any race victories from 2006, something not seen for a decade at McLaren. Kimi Räikkönen finished his final race for the team at Interlagos, Brazil, in fifth place.

In 2007, Steve Matchett argued that the poor reliability of McLaren in 2006 and recent previous years was due to a lack of team continuity and stability. His cited examples of instability are logistical challenges related to the move to the McLaren Technology Centre, Adrian Newey's aborted move to Jaguar and later move to Red Bull and the subsequent move of Newey's deputy to Red Bull. He also cites major upheavals at Ilmor which may have contributed to the "lamentable string of engine failures"; the piecemeal buyout by Mercedes-Benz, the resultant departure of co-founder Mario Illien, the appointment of Mercedes-Benz engineer Markus Deusmann to head the renamed Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines and the departure of Deusmann a year later to BMW.

In Malaysia, Fernando Alonso scored his first victory for McLaren. Alonso finished second at the 2007 British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton Won four races in the 2007 Championship and came second after leading for a majority of the Championship.

MP4 22 DetailThe 2007 season saw Fernando Alonso replace Kimi Räikkönen, Lewis Hamilton replace Juan Pablo Montoya and Vodafone join as title sponsor. As Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the team launched their new car, the MP4-22, and driver line-up on 15 January 2007 in Valencia, Spain.

During the winter testing period, the MP4-22 remained consistently near the top of the timesheets for all circuits involved. All round reliability of the car also appeared to have improved, with, according to the team, just one engine failure (which occurred after the end of its operational lifespan).

The MP4-22 appeared promising in the early part of the season, with Fernando Alonso driving it to victory in his second race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. This was the first race win for the team since the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix in October 2005 and the 41st one-two victory for McLaren.

After coming second at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Bahrain Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix and third at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton became the only driver in history to score podium finishes in each of his first four World Championship Formula 1 races. The Bahrain race was the first in which he finished ahead of his multiple title-winning team-mate, who struggled throughout the Grand Prix and finished 5th. He repeated this effort at the Spanish Grand Prix but this time, Alonso finished 3rd while Hamilton finished second. The race was won by Felipe Massa, driving for Scuderia Ferrari.

Hamilton continued to demonstrate his aggressiveness and talents on the race track. After the Spanish Grand Prix he became the youngest man ever to lead the Formula One World Championship, a record previously held by McLaren team founder Bruce McLaren.

At the Monaco Grand Prix Alonso won and Hamilton was second, giving McLaren its 150th grand prix win. This left them both with 38 points to head the F1 championship (but Alonso was considered to be leader by virtue of his two wins), and established McLaren as leader in the teams' ranking with 76 points, 20 more than Ferrari. Following the race, the FIA launched an investigation into whether McLaren Mercedes had breached the International Sporting Code by ordering Hamilton not to challenge Alonso for the lead. However, on 30 May 2007, the FIA ended the investigation after studying the team to driver communications during the Grand Prix. It said McLaren "did nothing which could be described as interfering with the race result.

At the Canadian Grand Prix Hamilton won his first Grand Prix after securing pole position in qualifying, and took the lead in the championship with 48 points. Alonso started slowly, and suffered a 10 second drive-through penalty, but managed seventh for two points to go to 40 points. McLaren maintained the lead in the constructors' championship with 88 points, comfortably ahead of Ferrari on 60 points.

A week later, Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, his second GP, again from pole position. Alonso challenged strongly, particularly during lap 38 when the cars were side-by-side, but Hamilton defended the lead to give McLaren its third one-two of the season. That took Hamilton 10 points clear of Alonso, and McLaren 35 points ahead in the Constructors' Championship.

The next race was Magny-Cours. Alonso suffered a transmission problem in Q3 and was forced to start from the 10th position. He was able to finish 7th however his teammate Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd on podium beind the two Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen, who won the race, and Felipe Massa. This put McLaren well in front in the standings, and gave Lewis Hamilton a cushion over his teammate Fernando Alonso.

Up next was Silverstone, the home Grand Prix of Lewis Hamilton. Amongst the media circus, Hamilton was able to bring his car home in 3rd position after starting from pole. This proved to be the last in a string of races in which Hamilton finished on the podium nine times out of a possible nine. Alonso finished 2nd and Kimi Räikkönen used superior pit strategy and car pace to come out in front and hold onto the lead.

The next race, the European Grand Prix, was arguably the best race of the season from a Formula One fan's point of view due to the rain which hit the track twice during the race. The first of the occurrences was extremely heavy and it caught out championship leader Hamilton who spun along with five other drivers at turn one. However, he had managed to keep the engine running and he was helped back on track by a crane and some marshals. After that, he made two critical tyre gambles which turned out to be completely wrong and so he finished a lapped 9th, ending his run of podium and points scoring finishes. Alonso, on the other hand, drove a mistake-free race and capitalised on his car's superior wet-weather handling to overtake Felipe Massa five laps from the end to take victory and close within two points of his team-mate in the championship standings.

The 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix showed the low point of the relationship between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso blocked Hamilton in the pit lane so that the Briton was unable to record a final lap time. As a punishment, Alonso was docked five grid positions and had to start at sixth; Hamilton went on to win the race, which was largely uneventful and Alonso came home fourth. Race stewards also ruled that McLaren had to forfeit the 15 Constructor's Championship points that they would have earned. Interestingly, the team stated that Hamilton's hold-up was not Alonso's fault (although Alonso gave the stewards a different explanation, that he was inquiring about his tyres, and that Hamilton had disobeyed team orders to let Alonso pass him, which put the two drivers out of sequence for their pit stops. McLaren had initially expressed their intent to appeal the Constructor's points penalty but ultimately withdrew their appeal after subsequently losing all their Constructor's points as penalty for the spying scandal.

Before the Italian Grand Prix, McLaren were fined $50,000 by the event's stewards for not crash-testing a new, lightweight gearbox which was used in the Hungarian GP. McLaren's actions were found to have breached Article 16.1.2 of the FIA's technical regulations, which states that "any significant modification introduced into any of the structures tested shall require that part to pass a further test". However the new gearbox subsequently passed a crash test and thus the FIA was satisfied that the cars used in Hungary were legal.

At the Italian Grand Prix much of the media attention was on Ferrari, as it is their home race, but Alonso and Hamilton secured the front row, with Alonso on pole. Alonso led from start to finish but Hamilton was passed by Räikkönen during his second stop, the Ferrari being on a one-stopper. Hamilton passed Räikkönen on the track, to give McLaren a one-two.

Between the Italian and the Belgian Grand Prix, McLaren were docked of all their constructors points and fined $100 million for their part in the espionage controversy and thus both drivers were off their stride in Belgium. Alonso was third in qualifying with Hamilton fourth, both behind the Ferraris. At the start of the race, Alonso and Hamilton were side by side into the first corner, battling for third. Alonso pushed Hamilton wide on to the grass and run off area but Hamilton came through it and attacked Alonso. Alonso kept third with Hamilton fourth. They could not attack the Ferraris and so Räikkönen won, ahead of Massa with Alonso in third and Hamiton forced to settle for fourth.

On November 2, Alonso and McLaren agreed to terminate the contract of the Spaniard by mutual consent with neither party paying a financial penalty.

Main article: 2007 Formula One espionage controversy
On the 3 July, McLaren suspended a senior member of its technical staff. It was alleged that an individual received a package of confidential technical information from a Scuderia Ferrari employee (Nigel Stepney) at the end of April. A Scuderia Ferrari press release said "Ferrari announces it has recently presented a case against Nigel Stepney and an engineer from the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes team (named by as Mike Coughlan with the Modena Tribunal, concerning the theft of technical information. Furthermore, legal action has been instigated in England and a search warrant has been issued concerning the engineer. This produced a positive outcome." Stepney's dismissal from Ferrari had been announced earlier the same day. On 4 July McLaren announced it had conducted an investigation and concluded that "no Ferrari intellectual property has been passed to any other members of the team or incorporated into [our] cars." The team also invited the FIA to inspect its cars to confirm these facts; "In order to address some of the speculation McLaren has invited the FIA to conduct a full review of its cars to satisfy itself that the team has not benefited from any intellectual property of another competitor. On 6 July Honda F1 released a statement confirming that Stepney and Coughlan approached the team regarding "job opportunities" in June 2007.Since the revelation of Coughlan's involvement in the affair McLaren has provided a full set of drawings and development documents to the FIA, detailing all updates made to the team's chassis since the incident occurred at the end of April. A hearing took place on 26 July 2007 at the FIA HQ in Paris. The FIA came to the conclusion that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (through Coughlan) was in possession of confidential Ferrari information and was therefore in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code, but with no evidence that they had used the information, McLaren were not punished.

However, following the emergence of new evidence, the FIA heard the case again on September 13. The evidence is understood to have been provided by Alonso and De la Rosa and brought to the attention of Max Mosley by Ron Dennis who phoned Mosley after Alonso revealed to Dennis during the Hungarian Grand Prix that he had more evidence. The second hearing resulted in McLaren being excluded from the 2007 Constructors' Championship, fined $100 million and obliged to submit their 2008 chassis for scrutineering. However, its drivers' position in the Drivers' Championship were unaffected. On September 21, 2007, it was apparent that McLaren were not going to appeal after they allowed their option to appeal to expire.

Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 Australian Grand Prix for McLaren.On 14 December 2007, it was confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen would drive the second car for McLaren Mercedes for the 2008 Formula One season alongside Lewis Hamilton. McLaren's title contender, the MP4-23, was launched on the 7 January 2008 at an official launch party in Stuttgart, Germany.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes started the year with both drivers scoring in the points at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton started from pole and ended up winning the Grand Prix while Kovalainen started 3rd but had dropped two spots by the finish. McLaren's 14 points saw them lead the Formula One Constructors' World Championship standings after the first race. After an exceedingly mixed beginning to the season post-Melbourne, Hamilton then racked up victories at the Monaco, British and German Grands Prix; the latter two respectively Hamilton's first triumph in his home race, and his first scored in the homeland of his McLaren outfit's engine supplier and partner, Mercedes-Benz.

At the inaugural 2008 European Grand Prix McLaren ran a relatively low key race, with Hamilton taking 2nd place and Kovalainen taking 4th. Hamilton stated after the race that he was happy to play the long game, picking up as many points as possible in order to boost his championship lead . Following the European Grand Prix, Hamilton leads the championship by 6 points from Felipe Massa, and McLaren hold 113 points, which puts them in second place behind Ferrari, 121.

The race following the European Grand Prix was the Belgian Grand Prix. Hamilton qualified on pole, with Kovalainen in third. The track was wet at the start of the race, and as all drivers barring Nelson Piquet Jr were running dry tires, many struggled with traction. Kovalainen was one of these drivers, and plummeted down the grid. Lewis on the other hand got away well and maintained his position from Kimi Räikkönen. Hamilton then spun his car at La Source hairpin at the end of the lap, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa narrowly avoiding a collision. Hamilton maintained a distance from Räikkönen until the final laps, when rain gave Lewis the opportunity to catch and overtake the defending World Champion. A move to overtake Räikkönen around the outside of the bus stop chicane saw Hamiltom receive a retroactive 25 second penalty, therefore stripping him of his win and restricting him to third in the race classification. Massa, who finished second on the road, was duly handed the win.

The controversy surrounding this decision has been great, with people accusing the FIA of unfair bias toward Ferrari. Criticisms were drawn surrounding the fact that Massa did not receive a penalty for the unsafe release of his car into the path of Adrian Sutil at the European Grand Prix, despite the fact that Bruno Senna received a penalty for the same action in the supporting GP2 Series.

Formula One statistics
Number of races: 641
Grand Prix victories: 160
Formula One Drivers' World Championships: 11
Formula One Constructors' World Championships: 8
Most wins (season): 15 (tied with Ferrari)
Pole Positions: 138
Podiums: 424
Double Wins (1-2s): 44
Fastest Laps: 136

The team has had title sponsorship from four brands in its history: Yardley (1971-1973), Marlboro (1974-1996), West (1997-2005) and Vodafone (2007-present).

It was originally called Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, although it had early title sponsorship from Yardley cosmetics. McLaren had one of the longest standing title sponsorship arrangements in sport with Philip Morris through their Marlboro brand. The relationship dated back to 1974 and was continuous from 1981 to 1996, after which (from the 1997 season on) Marlboro chose to exclusively sponsor Ferrari.

Reemtsma (through its West brand) was the title sponsor of McLaren from 1997 until 29 July 2005, after which McLaren were obliged to seek a new principal sponsor due to a European Union directive banning tobacco advertising. The team was therefore known as Team McLaren Mercedes until the end of 2006.

The current title sponsor is Vodafone, with the official team name for the 2007 season being Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, as announced in December 2005.

Aside from title sponsors, other current sponsors include Diageo plc (Johnnie Walker whisky brand), aigo, Hugo Boss, Hilton Hotels, and Santander. Emirates Airline was a major sponsor of the team for the 2006 season in a one-year deal (announced on 8 March 2006) reportedly worth between $20-$25 Million.

External links
McLarenThe official site of McLaren
Bruce McLaren
McLaren statistics

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Comment by Bill Fraley on July 19, 2008 at 8:13pm
ok...I give do i join the Mclaren owners club.....actually the mclaren/elva club, as it were.

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