Bruce McLaren was the founder of the McLaren F1 Team. He was born on 30 August 1937, and started his interest in racing by competing in motorcycle races, before moving over to cars. It was the heritage he left behind after his death in 1970 that formed the platform for a world known racing team, and a name that is carried with pride.
The partnership between McLaren and Mercedes started in 1995. It was a year full of new beginnings that not only included Mercedes as their new engine partner, but new regulations as well. Mercedes was the fourth engine partner since the 1970’s and there was a lot on the line. The new Mercedes engine, which was designed and built according to the new regulations, was smaller than the engine McLaren had used previously. This made the car design teams’ life a lot simpler. Refinement details on the engine and chassis meant that the units were almost completely new, and McLaren Mercedes worked hard on the balancing problems that came to the forefront in 1996. The new engine was modified with regard to its mid-range torque, and McLaren Mercedes managed to make the unit lighter and increase its power by 5%. By 1999, McLaren Mercedes had become a force to be reckoned with on the racing track.
The new century kicked off with close rivalry between McLaren’s Mika Häkkinen and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher. Following Häkkinen’s retirement from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season, Kimi Räikkönen stepped into his position on McLaren’s F1 Team. The 2003 F1 season started off well enough with teammates Coulthard and Räikkönen each claiming a victory for the first two races, but rival teams soon caught up. The unreliability of McLaren’s newly developed MP4-18 put the team at a disadvantage as they were forced to use the older MP4-17D model car. Nevertheless, Räikkönen proved his impressive driving skills by consistently finishing in the points, closing the season just two points short of victory. Car problems continued to plague McLaren during the 2004 season, but Räikkönen managed to clinch a victory at the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix breaking the winning streak of Michael Schumacher. 2005 saw Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya teaming up with Räikkönen for most of the season, but persistent car problems robbed Räikkönen of possible victories. The 2006 F1 season presented a number of challenges, including Montoya crashing into Räikkönen on the start line, putting them both out of the United States 2006 Grand Prix. This resulted in Montoyo parting company with the team. After the Italian Grand Prix that same year, Räikkönen signed with Ferrari to replace Michael Schumacher.
Dissent in the McLaren team during 2007, as well as a scandal regarding the team being found guilty of obtaining technical information of a rival team, were some of the setbacks to be dealt with, and at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso was released from his contract after just one season. Both the 2008 and 2009 season saw the McLaren F1 team recover to some extent, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikkii Kovalainen as drivers. At the end of the 2008 season, Hamilton became the youngest ever driver to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship. It was also the first time in nine years that McLaren had clinched this title.
For 2010, the McLaren F1 Team has a contract with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both world champions with promising careers ahead of them. This double champion driver line-up, the first for McLaren since the Senna/Prost partnership in 1989, along with the new MP4-25 car, promises great things for the coming year.