Le Mans Memories: Part 5 - The Father of the F1: Video
As we close in on the start of this year’s 24 Hours Of Le Mans, it’s always fun to take a look back at some of the legends in the history of this amazing race. This video, which is part of a series, looks at the McLaren F1. That would be a good thing to do no matter what, but this particular video is narrated by none other than Gordon Murray, the man who designed the F1. He tells a bit about his own background in Formula 1 racing (with McLaren, obviously), and how he came to be the one to head up this project.
He talks about how much the F1 had in common with race cars, something which might seem obvious in hindsight, but which was pretty groundbreaking at the time. The F1 would indeed end up being the fastest production car in the world, and for a long stretch of time. The car was such a beast that it needed to be detuned in order to compete at Le Mans, but that didn’t keep it from winning 1995, something which Murray says was the biggest achievement of his life. Easy to see why.
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Not a lot of cars based on road machines manage to get outright wins at Le Mans. And even those that do are usually homologtion specials made with racing as their first priority, and road-worthiness second (the Porsche 911 GT1 would be a good example of this). So although the F1 was built to be very similar to a race car, it was not initially designed to be one, and that makes its win over all of the purpose-built Le Mans prototype racers such a remarkable thing. Murray says at one point that winning just this one race is more difficult than running an entire season of Formula 1. That’s something that has been said by a number of teams before — teams running prototype racers. For a team with a road car, it is a herculean feat.
While Murray gives a lot of credit for the win to the drivers, the fact is that the F1 was a monumentally amazing machine, and the 1995 Le Mans win is unquestionable proof of that. It’s unfortunate that the P1 GTR won’t be competing at Le Mans this year, but this year’s prototype teams are not going to be so easy to beat, so perhaps it’s for the best.
You can read our review of the F1 here.