McLaren Automotive video series takes viewers inside McLaren and reveals MP4-12C development plans

Written by The Wire

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McLaren Automotive video series takes viewers inside McLaren and reveals MP4-12C development plans

Boston City Council, due to an ordering mistake, found itself with many gallons of red building paint. Therefore, as it would be costly to dispose of the paint, several streets in the city centre now boast an eye-catching exterior.

McLaren Automotive today launches the first in a series of broadcast-quality short videos, which present a rare insight into a performance car testing programme from the development team behind the new McLaren MP4-12C.

As a brand new car company, McLaren Automotive has a unique and engaging story to tell prior to its first model going on sale in Spring 2011. Meanwhile, 2009’s intense testing and development programme is clearly demonstrating the 12C’s potential and McLaren Automotive is presenting rare company footage and insight that reveals its plans, processes and challenges.

In a short film entitled ‘Inside McLaren: developing the MP4-12C’, viewers take the first steps to understanding how McLaren Automotive will fulfil its ambition to launch the MP4-12C as a genuine challenger to the world’s best high performance sports cars. Highlights include:

• An introduction to the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) and the MP4-12C test programme by McLaren Automotive Technical Director, Dick Glover
• Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin on how the 12C performs in extreme test conditions 
• An overview by senior engineers of the integrated approach to development on roads and tracks around the world and, virtually, back at MTC
• 12C development (XP) prototypes on road and track in England and Germany, and extreme hot weather testing in Bahrain
The challenging and comprehensive development programme has taken in some of the world’s most famous race circuits and most inhospitable driving environments; from the dry and cold, ice and snow of the Arctic, to the hot and humid, sand-soaked air of the Middle-East.

Combined with cutting-edge simulation programmes, Formula 1 techniques, personnel and processes, and thousands of miles of ‘real world’ on-road driving on the UK’s notoriously poor tarmac surfaces, the tight-knit testing team has taken giant strides through 2009 in the 12C’s development. The result is ‘pure’ McLaren: a revolutionary high performance sports car that features unique engineering solutions to deliver new standards in comfort, driving dynamics, economy and performance in the ‘core’* sports car market.

*’Core’ market according to McLaren Automotive are performance sports cars priced between £125,000 and £175,000
Dick Glover, Technical Director at McLaren Automotive is responsible for the 50-strong Testing and Development team and the eight development (XP) cars that have featured in the 2009 programme: “I am really proud of what the team has achieved this year,” he said.

“Having to develop a brand new range of cars from scratch to the standards expected of McLaren, featuring ground-breaking new structures and powertrain is the ultimate challenge and one we are relishing.  Sure, we have challenges – that is why we go to these places that absolutely push the cars to their limits and beyond – but now we know just what the 12C is capable of, we are able to push on into 2010 and deliver cars of which McLaren will be rightly proud.”

The 2009 testing programme has focused heavily on two of the most famous tracks in the world – the notorious Nordschleife Nurburgring and the circuit seen by millions on-screen, the BBC Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome. Both tracks push cars to their limits. But the success of the programme will also rest on McLaren’s technological innovation and experience.

The results of a testing session’s road and track performance are rapidly assessed within MTC. Simulation and rapid engineering practices – two core aspects of a successful Formula 1 team – are then employed to re-calibrate the XP test cars in-situ ready for the following day, or night’s, development targets.

Chris Goodwin, professional racing driver and Chief Test Driver at McLaren Automotive, summed up the self-imposed pressures on the development team: “McLaren has always set itself the highest standards. We are the most successful ever motor racing team, we designed and built one of the world’s most iconic sports cars in the world in the McLaren F1, and pioneered carbon fibre development on race and road cars.

“We took those standards into the development programme for the MP4-12C in order to launch a new high performance sports car comparable with past achievements and offering new levels of performance for the future. For us, these targets were simply starting points and that attitude requires the most thorough development possible. We believe that our global testing is delivering incredible strides for the 12C.”


Other highlights:

• Simon Andrew (Vehicle Development Engineer) sends back detailed daily reports from all test sessions to McLaren Automotive personnel in a wide range of functions, not just other members of his team.  This ensures that the full range of the company’s engineers, designers and management are able to contribute their experience.
• Rob Tyers is one of many team members introduced from the McLaren Racing division, bringing their experience of rapid decision-making in a highly competitive environment to bear on a traditionally slower-paced industry.  No other car company in the world offers this combination and experience of motor racing and road-car development personnel under one roof.
• McLaren Automotive has developed a unique programme inspired by the rapid development requirements of Formula 1.  This brings together the whole development team at one venue over a period of up to two weeks. Huge strides are gained during these intense testing periods as all car systems are stretched to their limits in combination and as a whole, rather than part by part in sequence.