TEAM McLAREN MERCEDES
Team Drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen
Tragedies and expectancies have ensured that one of the largest names in F1 have had turbulent times on their way to the top. The team is, at this date, one of the strongest F1 teams in the current lineup.
Lewis Hamilton is the latest to join a long list of race winning drivers that includes Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Häkkinen, Juan Pablo Montoya as well as the contemporary David Coulthard. The team was founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce Mclaren. It has gone on to become one of the most successful Formula 1 team. Mclaren Mercedes was formed in the year 1981 by the merger of Bruce Mclaren Motor Racing with Project Four Racing. The team has used engines produced by their shareholders, Mercedes – Benz.
The late 80s and early 90s saw the rise of Mclaren from being just another racing team to becoming a major force to reckon with. The likes of Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Gerhard Berger brought home 3 World Championships from 1988 -91. There was a major dry spell following these years till Häkkinen and Coulthard brought back the glory days in 1998. Considered as the age-old underachievers, their fans have always lived in the hope that Mclaren, with its technical expertise and powerhouse image would produce a performance worthy of the status provided to them as one of the big 4 in Formula 1 today, along with Ferrari, Renault and Williams.
Mclaren’s dominance in the 80s brought them the highest number of race wins for any pair of Formula 1 drivers within the same team. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost clocked up 14 wins between the pair of them in the 1988 season. The pair also won 15 out of the 16 Grand Prix races in the 1988 season.
The elite three of Ferrari, Mclaren and Williams has been cut down to a battle between two teams at one time. The late mid 90s saw Mclaren & Ferrari battling for the titles whereas Williams took over from Mclaren in the late 90s. Mclaren took over the battle again against the prancing horse in the post 2003 era.
Engine and mechanical failures marked terrible results for the team during 2002 and 2004. But 2005 saw Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya push for the title with more gusto than ever before. The 2007 season marked an unforgettable turn of events for most teams, specially for Mclaren. Firstly, there was no Michael Schumacher on the grid anymore. Secondly, the team was found guilty of spying on the Ferrari pit garage, which resulted in a fine of $100 million as well as exclusion from the Constructors’ Championships. Finally, and most importantly, it saw the emergence of the first black driver in the history of the sport and one who was destined to take the world by storm in his debut season.
A tumultuous three decades in racing have brought the Woking – based team 8 World Constructors’ Championships, catastrophic seasons in the early 90s, engineering nightmares in 2002 & 2004 and an incredible season in 2007 where the duo of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton brought home an incredible record of 218 points.
The rise of Lewis Hamilton and his partnership with defending champion Fernando Alonso failed to fetch the title on the last day of the 2007 season as Kimi Räikkönen in the Scarlet Ferrari drove past the first and second ranked title contenders. Heikki Kovalainen has joined Lewis Hamilton for the current 2008 season after unrest between Alonso and Hamilton saw Alonso leave the British team at the end of the month.
Team Boss: Ron Dennis
Race Wins: 157
Constructor’s Championships: 8
Engine: Mercedes V8 FO 108V
Chassis: MP4-23 - McLaren
Transmission: Semi-auto 7 speeds
Engine power: Over 18,500 rpm
GearBox: 7-speed unit + reverse
Weight: 605 kgs (including driver, camera and ballast)
Dimensions: Approx. 4800 mm x 1800 mm x 950 mm
Valves: 4 valves per cylinder; pneumatic valve system
Designer: Tim Goss
Chief engineer: Norbert Haug
Test driver: Pedro de la Rosa, Gary Paffett