McLaren F1 Case Study

By Oliver Gaskell

The McLaren F1 was originally conceptualised by Gordon Murray as a lightweight, high power sports car. It was designed to be the ultimate road car: comfortable, practical yet still very high performance. It would use a

carbon fibre chassis (the F1 would be the first car this was used in) and have a three seat configuration, with the driver seat centered and the passenger seats either side.

The F1 was first entered into the 1992 Le Mans 24h, and drivers in the F1 came 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th.


The original plan was to use a

550bhp engine from Honda derived from the then-dominating McLaren/Honda cars. However, Honda refused and McLaren turned to Isuzu, who were planning an entry into Formula 1, and were testing a 3.5-litre V12 engine in a Lotus chassis. Isuzu were very interested, however McLaren wanted a trusted engine with a racing background.

McLaren then approached BMW, who took an interest, and the motorsport division BMW M designed and build a 6,064 cc V12 engine, called the

At 618bhp, it was more powerful than the original Honda engine by 14%, but was 16kg heavier.

Chassis and body

The F1 was the first production roadf car to use a complete

monocoque chassis structure. The attachment point for the suspension, which were attached directly to the chassis.

The car features a centered driving position, with a passenger seat on either side, slightly behind. The doors move up and out when opened, hence being classified as butterfly doors (or dihedral). They were inspired by the


The F1 uses

gibing it a drag co-efficient of 0.32, compared to 0.36 of the Buggatti Veyron and 0.35 of the

It uses no wings to produce downforce, but the body design passivly produces enough downforce to be safe. It also has a spoiler at the rear which doubles as an airbrake.

By Oliver Gaskell | 2018 |