McLaren Automotive will soon have something special to boast about when it opens its sole New Zealand dealership in Auckland – a claim that its new carbon-fibre P1 hybrid supercar has set the fastest-ever lap of Germany’s famous Nurburgring circuit.
Nothing official yet but McLaren says its P1 – codenamed XP2R – is the new Ringmeister, lapping the 20.8km circuit in 6mins 47sec, a claimed 10 seconds faster than the hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder and roughly 30 seconds quicker than the Nissan GT-R and Lexus LF-A.
It was driven by McLaren test driver Chris Goodwin at an average speed of 178km/h. He said of the experience: “Driving the McLaren P1 at this pace, on this circuit, is the most impressive driving experience I’ve ever had in any road or race McLaren, on any road or track in the world.”
What makes the record time even more impressive is that McLaren had the P1 driven – not trucked – the 630km from its HQ outside of London to Germany.
On arrival, engineers said the bespoke Pirelli tyres were fine and didn’t need changing. They then engaged the P1’s ‘Race’ mode electronics and told Goodwin to go for his life. “Race” mode extends the active rear spoiler by 300mm, drops the car’s ride height by 50mm, and stiffens the suspension system by a whopping 300 per cent.
Result: a track-focused P1 racer generating 600kg of downforce, its active aerodynamics improving handling balance for greater cornering speeds.
The car’s hybrid drivetrain consists of a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 engine delivering 542kW and mated to an electric motor generating 131kw/h. McLaren says the set-up offers instant torque and throttle response and claims the P1 gets from 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds, 0-200km/h in 6.8 seconds and 0-300km/h in 16.5 seconds. Top speed is 350km/h (217mph).
For Goodwin, the circuit’s 154 off-camber corners, dramatic elevation and direction changes, and tight, technical sections finished with the 3.5km-long straight demanded an optimised set- up. He was subject to lateral g-forces of 3.9g and changed gear on average every six seconds.
”The track is like the rollercoaster from hell,” said Goodwin. “However, the car feels balanced and poised throughout, and inspires you to push on with the levels of grip and all-round ability.
“The acceleration is absolutely amazing. I have only experienced acceleration like this before in a Formula 1 car.
“With a car this fast, stability is just as important as ultimate grip, and some of the bumpiest sections of the track are also the fastest.
“The relentless climb towards the Karussell (highest point) is dealt with in a few spectacular moments as the full combined power of the powertrain punches the car up this long incline.
“At the top of the hill is one of the fastest corners on the lap, with a approach speed of around 300 km/h. The track is really bumpy here, but the corner is dispatched with a light dab of the brakes in fifth gear.”
From here, the McLaren P1 enters the final stages of the lap, and the sprint on the Dottinger Hohe straight to the finish.
Goodwin again: “The straight disappears in no time. The acceleration is brutal, but when you press the DRS (Drag Reduction System, or rear wing) button, it ramps up even further as the car slips through the air, and you arrive at the limited top speed of 330kpm/h in no time.
“And then, the car just sits there – ‘cruising’ – at this surreal speed, with the rough tarmac and Eifel mountain scenery flying by as if it’s a movie on fast forward.
McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt said the result was a true testament to the development team.
“The desire to push the envelope of performance, and achieve the sub-seven minute lap time, shows the spirit of (NZ-born founder) Bruce McLaren lives in the company 50 years on,” he said.