McLaren MP4/2

McLaren MP4/2

by Luca Dal Monte

In its three evolutions, the MP4/2 is the most successful McLaren in the history of the team founded by New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren in 1963 and present in Formula 1 since the 1966 racing season. The numbers are staggering: 48 Grand Prix races contested, 22 wins, 7 pole positions, 16 fastest race laps, two Constructors’ World Championships, three Drivers’.

At the heart of the project is the genius of English engineer John Barnard, who, with the MP4, signs his masterpiece.

Barnard conceives an innovative car with a carbon fiber chassis. But he insists that his technicians design the engine – a completely new power unit, developed by Porsche in collaboration with TAG – to fit the chassis. Initially, the engine designers object, wanting more freedom, and the conditions set by Barnard, always uncompromising about his work, are extremely restrictive. In the end, Porsche, the supplier, decides to adhere to Barnard’s requirements, i.e., McLaren, the client. Thus, an unbeatable car is born. The MP4/2 also features carbon brakes, which prove to be an additional winning factor on mixed and especially fast circuits.

McLaren MP4/2 Image 1


Niki Lauda: The two-time world champion Austrian returned to racing in 1982. Two years later, he clinches his third world championship title behind the wheel of the MP4/2. His 1984 season is remarkable. He secures five victories in South Africa, France, Great Britain, Austria, and Italy. But it’s especially the podium finishes that, at the end of the season, make the difference, with four second places achieved in Montreal, Hockenheim, Zandvoort, and Estoril. He becomes world champion by half a point margin over his teammate.

Alain Prost: The French driver secures seven victories in his first season with McLaren, two more than his teammate. However, they won’t be enough for him to win the title. Prost wins in Brazil, San Marino, Monaco, Germany, the Netherlands, the European Grand Prix at the N├╝rburgring, and even the last race of the year in Portugal. But he loses the title to Lauda, who finishes behind him at Estoril.

Our model cars:

McLaren MP4/2 Image 2

The engine, designed by Porsche-TAG, is a turbocharged 90┬░ V6 with a displacement of 1.5 litres. At the insistence of Niki Lauda, who has meanwhile returned to racing with McLaren, the new engine is first used at the 1983 Dutch Grand Prix. Fearing a lengthy development process, Lauda advised starting race testing before the start of the 1984 season. He was right because when the McLaren MP4/2 debuts at the ’84 Brazilian Grand Prix, the car is already so competitive that it allows Alain Prost to win the race.

McLaren MP4/2 Image 3