The teaser images for the P1 GTR were outrageous really, McLaren knowing exactly the audience they were appealing to. The yellow with the green stripe, a direct nod to the Harrods-liveried Mach One Racing McLaren F1 that brought the marque their Le Mans 24 Hours podium in 1995 – a race where mould-breaking F1 GTRs also won overall. And finished fourth. And fifth. This was the car they showed off at the Geneva International Motor Show, a weapon fashioned for one purpose: maximum track attack.
For its final production flourish, the already blisteringly fast P1 has been hardened up yet further into a pure racer, losing the dynamic rear wing and gaining a gargantuan multi-element fixed unit mounted higher up on carbon uprights. It still retains some DRS-style dynamic elements, though obvious not the full Thunderbirds style of the road car pop-up.
The base car was pretty much a racecar anyway, so outside the wing there are few massive visual changes – but look closer and, as you’d expect, there are a plethora of detail changes. As well as the wing there’s a much larger front splitter, reshaped radiator ducts, side intakes and diffuser that have brought a 10 per cent gain in downforce, with the front track increased by 80mm.
50kgs have been shaved off the base weight though, with the power to weight ratio now up to 684hp per tonne from the M838T 3.8-litre twin turbo V8. The powertrain retains its hybrid element, with the V8’s output tuned up to 789hp supplemented by 197hp from the electric motor – an overall gain of 83hp, made more significant with the P1 GTR’s diet, race fuel and a major software re-map.
The wing mirrors have been moved onto the A pillars to reduce drag – plus they’re almost certainly more useable in that position – and the side windows are now polycarbonate.
The exhaust is a new Inconel-titanium unit with dual pipes, saving another 6.5kg whilst making the soundtrack even more ferocious.
The wheels are F1-style centre locks, 19-inch rims running Pirelli competition slicks.
With McLaren’s carbon Monocell still the base structure of the P1 GTR there’s no need for a rollcage – stiffness and safety are built-into the chassis.
The P1 GTR sits even lower to the ground, by 50mm, and the video above – released for Geneva – shows the P1 GTR racing around with its older F1 namesake. I love how it demonstrates that uncompromising, raw racecar stiffness, bouncing through the bumpy corners on minimal suspension travel, everything optimised for speed. The driver’s teeth must have been shaken loose… Imagine what a run round Sebring would do! Oh, to have been at the Nürburgring that day.
Up to 30 could be built, depending on demand – which let’s face it is likely to be high, despite the eye-watering near-£2m price tag. Even so, only existing P1 owners can even apply to buy one. Once the cheque has cleared, they’ll be given a focussed driver programme to cope with the car’s potency, allowing them to live a proto-F1 dream that even extends to a steering wheel based on the 2008 F1 car unit.
The sad thing is that this hardcore, track-only, brutal racecar will likely never see real competition, doomed as it is to a zoo-like life of meticulously controlled one-make races as and when McLaren sees fit. McLaren Special Operations will maintain and run all the cars they sell, similar to the Ferrari FXX programme.
This car, this work of racing art, should be racing its competitors out in the wild – its natural habitat. Who cares if it’s faster or slower than a Ferrari; the people who are going to buy these can buy whole planets if they want, so the results don’t really matter. Us, the passionate majority who will only see these cars from afar, want to worship these kinds of machines in the public temples they belong in: the Le Mans, the Sebrings, the Nürburgrings of the world. You’re with me, right?