8 Memorable MP4 Cars From McLaren’s F1 History – WTF1

8 Memorable MP4 Cars From McLaren’s F1 History

McLaren has announced a new direction in the naming format of its Formula 1 chassis and that got us thinking about the best MP4 cars in its history.

Between 1980 and 1981, the name of McLaren F1 cars went from the M30 to the MP4 with the team’s merger with Ron Dennis’ Project Four Racing F2 team.

Ever since, McLaren’s F1 beasts have followed the MP4 system and it’s what we’ve become used to over the years.

But, the team has decided to do something different this year, with the exit of Dennis, and changed things. The new car will be called the MCL32, not the MP4-32.

So, with the MP4 era coming to an end, we thought we’d look back at our favourite cars from that era of McLaren:


It wouldn’t be a list of awesome McLarens, full stop, without the MP4/4. The beauty from 1988 remains one of the most dominant F1 cars of all time, winning 15 of the 16 races and both world titles. It was also a stunning car, visually, and featured the white and red livery we all want to see back in F1.


Hamilton's 2008 F1 car remains one of McLaren's most iconic
Hamilton’s 2008 F1 car remains one of McLaren’s most iconic

The MP4-23 from 2008 divides opinion, looks wise. It’s certainly striking, but all of the aero add-ons do give it a very busy visual aesthetic. Of course, the MP4-23 is best known for taking Lewis Hamilton to the world title after “IS THAT GLOCK?” and that angry Ferrari mechanic.


Why hello there
Why hello there

How beautiful were the cars of the 2005 F1 season? Just before the weird aero flicks, the cars had a much simpler look compared to more modern machinery and the McLaren MP4-20 was undoubtedly the best of the bunch. It almost won the title with Kimi Raikkonen too. But was a classic fast but fragile Adrian Newey car.


The MP4/6 had a beautiful elegance to it and also proved to be damn quick too. Powered by a monstrous Honda V12, Senna drove the car to the world title and it also clinched McLaren the constructors’ crown too. A hugely successful car in the MP4 line-up and a wonderful one to look at too.



The MP4/13 was the second McLaren to sport the silver and black West livery. The car looked aggressive, bold and was pretty damn quick too… it was the stand-out car from the 1998 season, winning nine of the 16 races. Mika Hakkinen clinched his maiden F1 title with the car and the team wrapped up the constructors’ championship too.


Another MP4 beauty
Another MP4 beauty

Inspired by the MP4/4 and the inspiration for the MP4/6 made the 1989 McLaren a true work of art. The original MP4/5 enjoyed a huge amount of success and gave us a load of iconic F1 memories between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. An updated version was used in 1990 too, making the car a two-time drivers’ and constructors’ championship winner.


One of F1's classiest designs in recent years...
One of F1’s classiest designs in recent years…

Few modern F1 cars have looked as wonderful and sophisticated as the MP4-27 from 2012. When the rest of the field were going for weird stepped noses and looked awkward, McLaren went for a classy design and the car looked ‘dope’ (as Hamilton would say) with a chrome livery. The car was quick and won seven races in total but Hamilton and Jenson Button finished a disappointing fourth and fifth in the standings when it could have been so much better.


The second in the MP4 range
The second in the MP4 range

The second car from the MP4 era proved to be hugely successful, through its numerous variations. The car debuted in 1984 and the team opted to run updated versions in 1985 and 1986 too. For that, it’s a hugely successful and important car for McLaren, with three drivers’ and two constructors’ titles to the car’s name. It also looks wonderful, even after all these years.

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