McLaren P1: Celebrating 10 years of the pioneering hybrid hypercar
McLaren celebrates this week the 10-year anniversary of the reveal of the production version of the McLaren P1. Unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, this remarkable hypercar is recognised as a landmark both for McLaren and the development of high-performance hybrid vehicles – showcased most recently by the all-new McLaren Artura.
Created with the intention of being ‘the best driver’s car in the world on both road and track’, the design and technical specifications of the McLaren P1 provided the ideal foundation to deliver on this ambition. A series of testing and development achievements during 2013 – including lapping the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife – immediately cemented the car’s credentials.
A 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged M838TQ V8 engine developing 737PS (727 bhp) combined with a lightweight electric motor producing 179PS (176 bhp) to give a total of 916PS (903bhp). This delivered levels of performance that were – and indeed remain – astonishing: acceleration from 0-100km/h (62mph) in 2.8 seconds; 0-200km/h (124mph) in 6.8 seconds and 0-300km/h (186mph) in 16.5 seconds – a full five seconds quicker than the legendary McLaren F1. A maximum speed of 350km/h (217mph) added to the appeal and reputation of the McLaren P1™, but it was the instant throttle response and torque infill that conclusively proved that electrification could truly enhance modern turbocharged powertrains.
Alongside a benchmark hybridised, petrol-electric powertrain, the Ultimate hypercar was underpinned by two of McLaren’s trademark strengths – low vehicle weight and aerodynamic excellence.
The MonoCage carbon fibre monocoque with roof at the core of the McLaren P1 was a development of the MonoCell structure used in McLaren’s 12C supercar and key to optimising mass in a vehicle with a dry lightest weight of just 1,395kg (3,075lbs). DIN weight was 1,490kg (3,285lbs).
The relentless pursuit of light weight remains a priority for McLaren and in 2023 the new Artura –also a high-performance hybrid, but a generously equipped series-production supercar rather than an extreme, limited-edition hypercar – has a DIN weight of 1,498kg (3,303lbs).
The carbon fibre body panels of the McLaren P1 comprise a large clamshell; single-moulded front and rear panels attached to the central MonoCage; two small access flaps in the rear; a front bonnet and the two doors. Weighing a total of only 90kg, the panels are extraordinarily thin but also very strong. The hybrid battery, which is mounted low inside the carbon fibre MonoCage, weighs just 96kg. Again, this philosophy of minimising weight is evident in the present day, with similar attention strategies applied in the Artura.
The McLaren P1 had no floor carpet – it was deemed unnecessarily heavy – and no sound deadening. The glass was re-engineered to reduce weight – the super lightweight roof glass is chemically toughened, and only 2.4mm thick. The windscreen is just 3.2mm thick, including a plastic interlayer, saving at the time 3.5kg over the 4.2mm-thick screen of the 12C.
The large rear wing of the McLaren P1 optimises aerodynamics by adjusting automatically. It can extend rearwards by up to 300mm on track and 120mm on road. This was developed using the same software and methodology as the McLaren Formula 1 team. A DRS (Drag Reduction System) was integrated into the design of the McLaren P1 to reduce downforce and increase straight-line speed, achieved through the pitch of the rear wing, rather than by using a removable flap.
A combination of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) aerodynamic modelling and many hours spent in a wind tunnel focusing on aerodynamic performance, resulted in downforce of 600kg at well below maximum speed.
Extremely exclusive and highly desirable from the moment it was revealed, the McLaren P1 sold out within mere months of reveal and by November all 375 cars were allocated. Build of the first of the 375 McLaren P1 production models – finished in Ice Silver paintwork – finished in September 2013 – by which time it had become firmly established as a performance icon. The final customer-ordered car was completed in December 2015; it was painted in a stunning pearlescent orange, a colour achieved through a unique tinting process that became available in other McLaren models as Volcano Orange.
Ten years after its Geneva Motor Show appearance – and in the year that McLaren also celebrates the 60-year anniversary of Bruce McLaren founding the company – the McLaren P1 remains an incredibly exciting and dynamically accomplished performer on both road and track.
The enduring legacy of the P1 extends beyond its iconic status in McLaren’s lineage of technologically advanced, driver-focused cars. As a precursor of electrification as an enhancement to driving engagement it changed perceptions of the technology, inspiring the ground-breaking Artura; a supercar that blends thrilling performance and driving dynamics with EV driving capability – a winning combination pioneered by the McLaren P1.
McLaren P1 – ten facts that distinguish an iconic hypercar
- The McLaren P1 accelerates from standstill to 300km/h (186mph) in 16.5 seconds – a full 5.5 seconds quicker than the legendary McLaren F1
- The McLaren P1 can run in full electric zero-emissions mode for short-distance town driving
- In Race mode, the McLaren P1 lowers by 50mm and the spring rates stiffen by 300 per cent, allowing the car to corner at more than 2g
- The adjustable rear wing of the McLaren P1 extends from the bodywork by up to 120mm on the road and up to 300mm on a track
- Carbon ceramic discs coated in silicon carbide bring the McLaren P1 to standstill from 100km/h (62mph) in just 30.2 metres
- The Formula 1-style Inconel exhaust follows the most direct route from the engine to the back of the McLaren P1 and weighs just 17kg
- The steering wheel diameter of a McLaren P1 is as technically precise as a wheel used by McLaren racing drivers: the hand grips of McLaren Formula 1 World Champions were modelled on a CAD system during development and scanned to produce an exact replica
- Each McLaren P1 was custom-built by a team of 82 technicians in a four-stage assembly process. From start to finish, the build of each car took 17 days
- During its development programme, the McLaren P1 covered in excess of 620,000 kilometres (385,250 miles) of testing, equivalent to more than 15 times around the world.
- The name comes from Grand Prix racing, ‘P1’ signalling first place on the grid, but there is also heritage in the name: the McLaren F1 was initially known as Project 1, or P1.