The new McLaren P1 has completed its final development objective by achieving a sub-seven minute lap time of the Nürburgring circuit.
This lap time is no mean feat as the 13 miles /20.8 kilometres of twisting undulating German forest road has to be covered at an average speed in excess of 111mph /178 km/h.
The McLaren P1 is certainly more than capable of getting to the required speed with its dual powerplant drivetrain generating 916PS (903 bhp). In the back is a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 petrol engine which produces 737PS (727 bhp). This is coupled to a 179PS (176 bhp) lightweight electric motor to offer optimised performance. The efficient drivetrain offers instant torque and throttle response, with performance figures to match – 0-100 km/h /62 mph in 2.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h /124 mph in 6.8 seconds and 0-300 km/h /186 mph in 16.5 seconds.
To help keep the car glued to the track McLaren have used optimised aerodynamics, cutting-edge bespoke systems developed with technical partners and never-before-used technologies.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Automotive explained: ‘This final challenge for the McLaren P1™ was very publicly set out earlier this year, and the result is true testament to the team in Woking. Not only in terms of what has been achieved in Germany, but in what has been achieved with this project. The McLaren P1™ is a technical tour de force, and is truly a car that we at McLaren are very proud of. The desire to push the envelope of performance, and achieve the sub-seven minute lap time, shows the spirit of Bruce McLaren lives in the company 50 years on.’
‘The Nürburgring is one of the most daunting and challenging stretches of road anywhere in the world, and is the perfect final test for the McLaren P1™, as it brings together all of the elements of the development programme we have worked through, and subjects the systems and technologies to the ultimate seven minute punishment.
‘We set a series of challenging targets throughout the development of the McLaren P1™, with the most significant one being the fact that the car would be the best driver’s car on both road and track. I am extremely proud of the fact that we have achieved everything we originally set out to do, and in such a convincing manner.’
McLaren have used a unique and highly efficient braking system from Akebono, providing stopping ability akin to a fully-focused racing car; a specially-formulated lightweight paint system by AkzoNobel offering optimised performance and aerodynamics; advanced performance and cooling characteristics of Mobil 1 lubricants in the engine and gearbox; bespoke high performance tyres created by Pirelli designed and developed specifically to manage the unprecedented downforce and cornering forces generated; and the use of highly accurate TAG Heuer timing technology and equipment for the continual verification of performance characteristics during the development programme.
With all this latest technology and power you still need to negotiate more than 150 corners, 300 metres of elevation changes and cornering forces of up to 2g. All in less than seven minutes…
We all know that the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the toughest test track to measure the all-round performance of any car but what about the drive itself ?
Before the laps could begin the Supernova Silver example of the McLaren P1™, codenamed XP2R, was driven the 390 miles from Woking, England across to the Nürburgring ahead of this final development test phase. This was to prove the car’s unique road-to-race ability. On arrival at the track, ‘Race’ mode extended the active rear wing by 300mm, dropped the ride height by 50mm and saw the RaceActive Chassis Control suspension system stiffen by 300 percent – a fully-focussed track car at the push of a button.
The McLaren P1™ generates up to 600kgs of downforce through the use of advanced active aerodynamics which, in conjunction with the bespoke tyres, provides unprecedented levels of grip and superior balance and handling. This allows the McLaren P1™ to carry greater levels of speed through the corners, and achieve higher apex speeds, and the optimised traction enables the driver to get on the power earlier.
‘The track is like the rollercoaster from hell. However, the car feels balanced and poised throughout, and inspires you to push on with the levels of grip and all-round ability,’explains Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin.
‘The acceleration from the Aremberg right hander down the Fuchsröhre is absolutely amazing. I have only experienced acceleration like this before in a Formula 1 car. This downhill snaking section of the track is taken flat, using DRS, shifting gear all the way down to the base of the valley, and the compression that follows applies the maximum vertical g-forces to the car. The forces really load the tyres, chassis and wing, but it is taken with only a slight lift of the throttle.’
‘The numerous jumps that make the Nordschleife famous are an even bigger challenge than normal with the massive speeds we approach them. Flugplatz and Pflanzgarten are both taken at very high speed, but the levels of downforce generated combats these approach speeds, and keep the car really stable on ‘landing’. They are both quite scary corners in any car, but I’ve never felt as confident. It’s just sensational.’
‘Through Bergwerk [the corner at which Niki Lauda had his infamous accident in the 1976 German GP], you have to turn in late in order to carry as much speed as you can onto the following straight without running wide. Here, the awesome braking and pin-sharp steering of the McLaren P1™ were crucial, enabling me to get back on the throttle smoothly and quickly. That is a quick section, and one that feels fantastic when you get it just right.’
Immediately back on the pace on the exit of Bergwerk, the groundbreaking RaceActive Chassis Control (RCC) ensures the McLaren P1™ remains planted and balanced through a particularly bumpy section of track.
Goodwin continues: ‘With a car this fast, stability is just as important as ultimate grip, and some of the bumpiest sections of the track are also the fastest. The relentless climb towards the Karussell is dealt with in a few spectacular moments as the full combined power of the powertrain punches the car up this long incline. At the top of the hill is one of the fastest corners on the lap, with a approach speed around 300 km/h, The track is really bumpy here, but the corner is dispatched with a light dab of the brakes in fifth gear.’
Cornering forces peak as the McLaren P1™ drops onto the banked concrete surface at the Karussell, and swings round more than 180 degrees. In terms of pure lateral g-forces, the driver is subjected to 3.9g.
From here, the McLaren P1™ enters the final stages of the lap, and the sprint to the finish. Running on road-legal Pirelli tyres specially developed for the McLaren P1™, the production-specification model set a relentless pace, peaking at the electronically limited 330 km/h (205 mph) available in ‘Race’ mode on the Döttinger Höhe straight.
Throughout the course of a single lap, a gear change was made, on average, every six seconds and, unlike in Formula 1™ when DRS is limited to one or maybe two designated zones to aid overtaking, the system was used for nine percent of the entire lap on seven separate occasions as Goodwin made his way towards the finish line. The system is operated through the steering wheel-mounted button, and trims the twin element rear wing from 29° to 0°. When engaged, the use of DRS reduces downforce on the car by 60 percent.
‘The Döttinger Höhe straight disappears in no time,’ explains Goodwin. ‘From Galgenkopf the acceleration is brutal, but when you press the DRS button, it ramps up even further as the car slips through the air, and you arrive at the limited top speed of 330 kph in no time. And then, the car just sits there – ‘cruising’ – at this surreal speed, with the rough tarmac and Eifel mountain scenery flying by as if it’s a movie on fast forward.’
Having driven the full range of McLaren road and race cars, Goodwin is in a unique position to comment on the performance characteristics and abilities, and how the McLaren P1™ compares.
Following his sub-420 second sprint around the fearsome Nürburgring circuit, he concludes:
‘Driving the McLaren P1™ at this pace, on this circuit, is the most impressive driving experience I’ve ever had in any road or race McLaren, on any road or track in the world.’
To see the video just click here.
As all the McLaren P1 cars are now sold it looks like you may have to purchase an Xbox and Forza 5 to try and beat this time!