Few cars have been as keenly anticipated as the new McLaren MP4- 12C, or come with such a massive weight of expectation. But it’s understandable. When the first cars are made in 2011, the only other car in the McLaren line-up will be the one driven by Lewis and Jenson every other Sunday. And the only other road car to have borne the McLaren name alone – the legendary F1 of 1993 – is considered by many to be the greatest car ever made.
McLaren isn’t exactly trying to dampen our enthusiasm; it says its new supercar will have the same purity of purpose as the F1, and will use everything it has learnt winning 164 Grands Prix and twelve driver’s world championships over 45 years. The famously demanding, detail-obsessed Ron Dennis quit as F1 team boss to oversee this new project. But when those first cars roll out of the Norman Foster-designed McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England – and later a bespoke new factory nearby – they’ll face fierce competition from Ferrari’s sensational new 458 Italia, fierce scrutiny from petrolheads with sky- high expectations, and fierce criticism from a world sceptical about supercars for environmental and economic reasons. And with two more, still-secret supercars planned, this car is critical to McLaren’s future. “We will be severely punished if we fall short,” says Dennis.
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