The McLaren F1 will be reinvented before the turn of the decade in a project made possible by the bespoke skills of the firm’s Special Operations division. The all-new, limited-edition car will pay homage to the iconic F1 and include many of its standout design features, including the three-seat layout, powered dihedral doors with openings that extend to the roof’s central vein, and a roof snorkel. However, the car is also being engineered to an all-new brief as an ultra-powerful GT car.
With the P1 still at the pinnacle of McLaren’s line-up, our sister publication Autocar UK understands the new F1 development team has been given the goal of making the fastest GT car yet, as opposed to a super-sportscar chasing outright performance.
“It applies the F1’s three-seat configuration to a different need: rapid, cross-continental travel with supreme speed and style,” said an insider. “The result will be the most exquisitely crafted and luxurious road-going McLaren yet made.” McLaren personnel are said to refer to the car as a hyper-GT.
Sources suggest the car will use a modified version of the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 engine that powers all of its cars, delivering more than 700hp. There will be no electrical assistance, but the top speed will exceed 320kph.
“The power-to-weight goal is to eclipse any other car with three seats or more. But at the same time, this will be the most refined McLaren ever sold,” said the source.
To emphasise the new F1’s dual remit of supercar pace and GT-style comfort and refinement, it is understood that the car’s Proactive Chassis Control system – a feature used on McLaren road cars – will be retuned with a focus on ride comfort. The interiors, however, will be entirely bespoke.
The cabin will mix the F1’s heritage with ultra-modern materials and finishing to create a luxurious feel that will be in line with the car’s cross-country goal. It is rumoured that the entire switchgear too will be bespoke and customers will be able to select from a huge range of finishes and materials. As such, the car is being billed as a showpiece for the technical and design prowess of the McLaren Special Operations (MSO) division.
A bespoke version of McLaren’s carbonfibre monocage is understood to be under development to enable a central driving position and space for two passengers on either side, but is placed slightly behind. The monocage was first developed for the P1 and is itself a development of the monocell that is the basis for every other production McLaren road car.
The car’s final look is uncertain beyond the F1 references, but the design team has been briefed to apply a carbonfibre body that looks shrink-wrapped over the interior and mechanical parts to convey “extreme elegance”.
Another key element will be the exhaust outlets, which are expected to be mounted high in the rear bodywork to leave the rear diffuser section clear and give this portion of the car a clean look. McLaren bosses are said to have pushed the design team to give the new car all of the visual drama of the original F1.
The three-seat layout is believed to have been long requested by customers of MSO in order to allow them to “take McLaren ownership even further”. MSO was set up in 2011 to provide “everything from bespoke customisation options through to building ultra-exclusive limited-edition or one-off models”.
Because of the complexity of developing a three-seater, as well as the symbolism of it, McLaren is believed to have rejected all proposals around the theme until now. Its current confidence is underpinned by rising profits, record production and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to its most recent launches, the 675LT and 570S.
The new GT car’s mooted launch date in 2018 also ties in with the F1’s history, because it marks the 30th anniversary of the fabled conversation between McLaren boss Ron Dennis, McLaren part-owner Mansour Ojjeh of TAG, technical director Gordon Murray and marketing boss Creighton Brown that led to its creation.
There is no news yet on the car’s name. It will inevitably be linked to the iconic F1, but there is no numeric scope for progressing the name to F2, for instance, without it underplaying the car’s significance. So an F1 name with a suffix, such as F1 GT, is thought most likely.
The new F1 is believed to be one of the 15 new McLarens promised between now and 2022. A P1 successor is likely to come towards the end of that period and the new F1 is said to have “no bearing” on that project.