McLaren are undoubtedly one of the most successful F1 teams of all time and have won 8 constructors’ championships and 182 races. Founded in 1963, the team won their first race in 1968 and have continued to see this incredible success. 1988 – 1991 was dominated by McLaren and they won all the constructors’ and drivers’ championships within these years. Although in recent years they have lost this dominance, they are still regarded as a very competitive team and have won many races since the 90s.
Bruce McLaren founded the McLaren team in 1963 and his team made their debut in the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix. Due to unreliability and lack of power the team struggle in the first two years and fail to score and big results. However, in 1968 they score their first win. This victory in Belgium was followed by 2 other wins that season and they ended in 2nd overall. Further success followed in 1969, with the McLaren drivers on the podium 5 times. In 1970 Bruce McLaren was killed at the Goodwood circuit when testing a car, this left Teddy Mayer in control of the team.
Four years on, they win their first championship. Four wins and 10 podiums give them 75 points overall. 1976 saw Lauda strong in Ferrari. However, after Lauda’s crash in the German Grand Prix; James Hunt was able to close his points deficit and managed to beat Lauda by one point. The end of the 1970s and early 80s were very poor for McLaren and from 1977 through to 1981 they won just four races. However, this soon changed. In 1984, the team signed Prost and Lauda who proved to be the strongest driver line up of any team. After a season of tremendous success for McLaren (12 wins from 16 races) and a close fight for the drivers, Lauda beat Prost by just half a point to take the title. Alain Prost won both the 1985 and 86 championships and this also gave the team their third constructors’ championship.
1988 saw the beginning of McLaren’s dominance of the sport. Having signed Senna to race alongside Prost, the team won 15 out of 16 races. A season long battle saw Senna finally take the title, despite the fact Prost scored more points (only the best 11 results counted). This success continued into 1989 but this time it was Alain Prost who won the title. Senna and Prost lead the championship in 1990 and the drivers’ champion was only crowned in the penultimate race of the season. This was when Senna hit Prost on the first corner which resulted in both drivers having to retire from the race. Senna won again in 1991 for McLaren , a season won again by McLaren.
With Williams improving in 1992, they managed to break McLaren’s run of championships. Even though they won five races in the season, McLaren could only manage 2nd. From 1994 through to 1996 McLaren failed to win a race. 1997 saw some improvement and they won 3 races to finish 4th overall.
In 1998 and 1999 McLaren win 16 races. Mika Hakkinen wins both titles for McLaren and the team win the 1998 constructors’ title. They lost the title to Ferrari in 1999 due to a combination of both technical failures and driver error. Although 2000 and 2001 were dominated by Ferrari, McLaren manage to finish in both titles both years. They won 11 races across those 2 years, also. When Hakkinen retired at the end of 2001, McLaren replaced him with Kimi Raikkonen. The team could only achieve 3rd place in the championship in 2002 and won just one race. 2003 was of equal success and 2004 was even worse for the team, finishing 5th overall.
With the fastest car on the grid in 2005, McLaren win 10 races. However, poor reliability saw them narrowly miss out on the title to Renault. McLaren experienced one of their poorest seasons in a decade in 2006, failing to win a single race. They ended the season in 3rd place.
McLaren signed Lewis Hamilton to race alongside Fernando Alonso in 2007. They won eight races in the season but, after being found to be in possession of confidential Ferrari technical data, McLaren had all their constructors points taken away as well as being fined $100 million. As the rivalry grew between the two team mates the fight became more intense; Alonso and Hamilton ended the season tied in 2nd place, just one point off Kimi Raikkonen. In 2008, Lewis Hamilton won the drivers’ championship, the first McLaren driver for nearly 10 years. They were unable to win the constructors’ championship.
Ron Dennis stepped down from the role as team principal in 2009, handing the position to Martin Whitmarsh. The season started poorly and they struggled to score points. During the season, the pace improved and they won two races. However, they finished just 3rd overall. Jenson Button replaced Heikki Kovalainen for 2010. Despite the fact their car wasn’t as quick as the Red Bull, McLaren benefitted from good reliability and strong performances in the wet conditions. They won five races but lost out on the title to Red Bull. 2011 was dominated by Red Bull and McLaren found themselves as the only rivals to them. With 6 wins overall, they ended a strong second in the standings. Struggling for pace in the opening rounds of the season, they won 2 races in the first half of 2012. Updates mid-season improved this but poor reliability prevented them from challenging for the title.
With Hamilton moving to Mercedes, McLaren signed Perez to replace him. Failing to even get a single podium in 2013, McLaren seriously struggle and finish 6th in the constructors’ championship. Another tough season follows in 2014 and, although both Magnussen and Button were on the podium in round one, they were unable to challenge for any more. Once again, they ended fifth overall.
Having signed Fernando Alonso for 2015, McLaren were forced to pick either Button or Magnussen to stay. In the end they chose Button over Magnussen, although he stayed on as test driver. Changing to Honda engines, 2015 was a dreadful year for McLaren, suffering multiple engine failures and receiving a record number of grid penalties. In the end, they scored just 27 points. Small improvements were made for 2016 but it was still a very tough year for the team and they ended up 6th in the championship having been able to challenge for points more regularly.
After another season hampered by reliability issues, McLaren split with Honda at the end of 2017 and will use Renault power units in 2018.