"There are so many examples of race car process and technology transfer in the 12C," claimed Glover. "The car owes much to McLaren's experience and success in motor sport. The advantage of technology transfer is only one element; speed of decision-making and development, F1 processes and people all make an important contribution.
"Brake Steer, for example, is a technology we pioneered on our Formula 1 car back in 1997. It helps to dial out understeer on entry to a corner and improves traction on the way out. Another is the Pre-Cog function on the gearshift rocker that effectively primes the gearbox ready for the next change, ensuring a more satisfying and faster gearchange. This is a high performance sports car with race car genes and teamwork at its heart."
Weight is the enemy of performance in every area of car design. It affects acceleration, speed, handling, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions - everything. McLaren Automotive engineers pursued weight saving obsessively. For example:
- The Carbon MonoCell not only reduces the weight of the structure but also allows for the use of much lighter weight body panels.
- The close position of the driver and passenger allows a narrower, lighter body while giving improved visibility with a clearer perception of the car's extremities.
- Brakes with forged aluminium hubs save 8 kg and weigh less than optional carbon ceramic brakes.
- Lightweight exhaust pipes exit straight out the rear of the car, minimizing their length and weight.
- Airflow-assisted Airbrake deployment dramatically reduces weight of the Airbrake activation system.
- Small, compact downsized engine coupled to lightweight compact SSG minimizes vehicle length, weight and polar moment of inertia.
- Significant weight was pared off the alloy wheels through intensive Finite Element Analysis of wall thicknesses.
- The engine cooling radiators were mounted at the rear, as close to the engine as possible, to minimize the pipework, the fluids contained within them, and therefore weight. They were also mounted in car line to minimize vehicle width.
"We have spent most of the programme `adding lightness'," said Mark Vinnels, McLaren Automotive Programme Director. "If the cost of reducing weight brought performance gains in speed, handling or economy, we did it. However, if the expense could deliver improved performance elsewhere we didn't pursue it. We never set weight targets as such; we set cost-to-performance targets and examined everything in this way.
"A good example of this philosophy is that we considered carbon fibre body panels. They would have reduced weight but added little benefit as the new one-piece Carbon MonoCell provides all of the torsional strength the body needs. The costs saved were used elsewhere for greater weight reduction and efficiencies overall. This was the holistic approach to weight saving that we used all the way through development," he concluded.
Frank Stephenson, McLaren Automotive Design Director: "Many sports cars and super cars present an `in-your-face', `look-at-me' image that can become wearing and boorish; the ultimate backhanded compliment becomes, "...it was of its time". Great design, however, is timeless and looks relevant years later. Take the McLaren F1 as an example. I hope that with the 12C we have produced a car that looks great today and will still look great in years to come."
The 12C's body has been styled to support sector-leading levels of downforce; downforce that then subsequently contributes to sector-leading levels of lateral grip and stability. Air flow has been manically managed to support all performance figures and light weight targets. For example, placing the radiators adjacent to the engine keeps the car narrow and reduces weight. However, this results in a huge challenge of ensuring ample air flow to the radiators. The result? The large side air scoops and integrated turning vanes that are dramatic, but purely functional. No larger or smaller than required.
The designer's challenge is to then take that styling purpose driven by engineering aspirations and add personality. That's why the air scoops resemble the McLaren logo in form, as do other features around the car.Just two `pure' lines flow round the car and, when combined with the integration of several dramatic convex and concave surfaces, present a car that looks compact, low and well proportioned.
Design: Everything for a Reason
The McLaren MP4-12C design follows similar principles to McLaren's Formula 1 cars, and the legendary McLaren F1, where everything is for a reason and all lines, surfaces, and details are designed with a job in mind as much as styled. This ensures that the 12C communicates its engineering through its styling and will remain timeless as a piece of automotive design.