It was in 1963, around 53 years ago Bruce McLaren, a three time GP winner and a runner up of the 1960 Formula 1 Championship with the British Works Cooper Team decided to set up his own racing company when a true legend of the motor sporting world was born. Even the founder of the company Bruce would not have imagined how grand and huge his company would become in years to come, the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing was founded to compete at the Australasian Tasman Series which allowed 2.5 litre engines as against the 1.5 litre engines that were the norm at the Formula 1 circuit. The New Zealander, Bruce McLaren parted ways with his Cooper Team because the owner of the team was only willing to provide the 1.5 litre engine and not a 2.5 litre, to Bruce in order to participate at the Australasian Tasman Series that led to him forming his own racing effort and Bruce achieved his dream when he started off by winning the Championship in 1964 with his fellow racer Timmy Mayor. It was in 1966 Bruce decided to participate at the Formula 1 level and thus began the journey of a glorious 50 Years of McLaren Formula 1 that will continue as we head out in the future of the sport.
The 50 Years of McLaren in Formula 1 story began with the 1966 Monaco Gran Prix with the car named McLaren M2B, about which we have talked in detail in our feature here Bruce was not able to complete the race and in the lap 9 he had to retire due to an oil leak. However, the first success for McLaren came in 1968 when Bruce took the victory at the Belgian Gran Prix, his car being the McLaren M7A which was powered by the Cosworth’s DFV engine. This started off the company’s successful journey that the racing records are a proof of. Let’s go through big moments in last 50 Years of McLaren Formula 1.
50 Years of McLaren in Formula 1 – 1960’s:
The Company was established in 1963 by Bruce McLaren as Bruce McLaren Racing and won the 1964 Australasian Tasman Series, a series which was the reason Bruce went on ahead to form his own team in the first place. In 1966, Bruce McLaren Team heads to Formula 1 with their first car, the McLaren M2B, however, the First Victory only arrived in 1968 when Bruce took the McLaren M7A powered by the then revolutionary new Cosworth DFV Engine. Bruce McLaren was the last ever racer to have won in a car he had designed and made himself in Formula 1. After the victory at the Belgian Gran prix, Bruce McLaren Racing Team two more races that season at Italy and Canada and finish the season second in the championship. In 1969, they got three podium finishes and a victory in the final race of the season.
50 Years of McLaren in Formula 1 – 1970 to 1982:
The year of 1970 became a significant moment in the history of McLaren as we know it. The year had started well for both Bruce and his team-mate Hulme as they both achieved podiums in the first two races of the year. However, tragedy struck the Bruce McLaren Racing Team, when in June 1970, Bruce died in a crash while testing the new M8D Can-Am car. After his death, Teddy Mayer took over effective control of the team while he was joined by Hulme who continues to race with Dan Gurney and Peter Gethin. In 1974, McLaren won its first F1 championship with their driver, Emerson Fittipaldi. One catchphrase by Emerson became a legend that year itself, ‘I would have gone faster if it wasn’t for these fucking sideburns’.
In 1976 James Hunt joined McLaren and got the team what would be their first outright title in the world championship. In 1980, McLaren merged with Ron Dennis’s Project Four Racing team that results in a thorough restructuring of the McLaren Team. 1981 saw McLaren announce the legendary MP4/1. The car was the first ever F1 car that had a carbon fibre chassis. The year 1982 saw the departure of Mayer from the reigns of the company and it was sold to new owners.
50 Years of McLaren Formula 1 – 1983 to 1999:
1984 saw McLaren win their second constructor title with Niki Lauda as the driver for the team. The success continued in 1985 when Alan Prost won his first world championship driving the McLaren MP4/2B. In 1988, the great Aryton Senna won the championship when he along with Alan Prost won 15 out of 16 races that year. Sadly in the year that all Formula 1 fans clearly remember, 1989 saw McLaren’s Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna crash into each other during the Japanese Grand Prix. Senna continued with the team in 1990 where he won the world championship again. In 1993 when Senna won the Australian Gran Prix, it became the teams 104 Gran prix Victory that made the British company founded by a New Zealander to the most successful F1 team of all time. Further on, before the new millennium kicked in Mika Hakkinen wins the drivers’ title for second year in a row in 1999.
50 Years of McLaren in Formula 1 – 2000 to Present:
After a rather dull few years at Formula 1 when all McLaren could do was to see the rise of Ferrari to be the team to reckon with and a certain Michael Schumacher who was hell bent to rewrite every huge achievement in the Formula 1 championship, until McLaren come into its winning ways with Lewis Hamilton taking his first world championship in 2008 while driving the McLaren MP4-23. Again a dull followed the team’s success rate in the coming years, when in 2015 McLaren joined hands with Honda to fight for the championship in the drastic times of the Formula 1 championship that is seeing constant rule changes and technology that is making the sport lose its sheer raw appeal every passing year. All this has lead to 2016, when this iconic British Racing team that also makes some of the most incredible passenger cars in the market as well celebrates 50 Years of McLaren Formula 1.
Do let us know what you think of the glorious 50 Years of McLaren Formula 1 in the comments section below.