It’s been 25 years since McLaren first hit the road with the legendary F1 supercar, which makes now as fitting a time as any to look back on the mark it made on the automotive scene. And who better to reflect on it than the vehicle’s designer?
Gordon Murray started out as a Formula One engineer, working for Brabham before switching to McLaren. In the early 90s, though, he took on the new challenge of designing a road car, and the McLaren F1 is what resulted.
A quarter-century later, the F1’s performance has long since been surpassed – although not by many, mind you. What survives is the groundbreaking innovation that went into it – and that unforgettable driving position at the middle of the 1+2 cockpit. It’s something that none of its successors have successfully emulated, which all on its own would be enough to leave the F1 in a category all on its own.
But why did they do it? To better feel the vehicle’s inertia as it rotated around its axis? To offer a better view of the road ahead? It does all that, but none of those are why Murray pursued that unusual layout. Instead, as you can see and hear for yourself straight from the proverbial lion’s mouth, it comes down to something seemingly much more benign: pedal positioning. (That’s right, pedal positioning.)