Sub-seven around the ?Ring: a driver?s eye view
Sub-seven around the ‘Ring: a driver’s eye view of McLaren's P1
McLaren's sensational new P1 supercar completed its development objectives by lapping the fearsome Nurburgring Nordschleife in under seven minutes, but how was it done? Read on for an account of the achievement by the man behind the wheel…
“The Supernova Silver example of the McLaren P1, codenamed XP2R, was driven the 390 miles from Woking across to the Nürburgring ahead of this final development test phase, underlining the car's unique road-to-race ability. On arrival at the track, 'Race' mode extended the active rear wing by 300mm, dropped the ride height by 50mm and saw the RaceActive Chassis Control suspension system stiffen by 300 per cent – a fully-focused track car at the push of a button.
The P1 generates up to 600kgs of downforce through the use of advanced active a
erodynamics which, in conjunction with the bespoke tyres, provides unprecedented levels of grip and superior balance and handling. This allows the McLaren to carry greater levels of speed through the corners, and achieve higher apex speeds, and the optimised traction enables the driver to get on the power earlier.
“The track is like the rollercoaster from hell,” explains test driver Chris 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 from the Aremberg right hander down the Fuchsröhre is absolutely amazing. I have only experienced acceleration like this before in an F1 car. This downhill snaking section of the track is taken flat, using DRS, shifting gear all the way down to the base of the valley, and the compression that follows applies the maximum vertical g-forces to the car. The forces really load the tyres, chassis and wing, but it is taken with only a slight lift of the throttle.
“The numerous jumps that make the Nordschleife famous are an even bigger challenge than normal with the massive speeds we approach them. Flugplatz and Pflanzgarten are both taken at very high speed, but the levels of downforce generated combats these approach speeds, and keep the car really stable on 'landing'. They are both quite scary corners in any car, but I've never felt as confident. It's just sensational.
“Through Bergwerk [the corner at which Niki Lauda had his infamous accident in the 1976 German GP], you have to turn in late in order to carry as much speed as you can onto the following straight without running wide. Here, the awesome braking and pin-sharp steering of the P1 were crucial, enabling me to get back on the throttle smoothly and quickly. That is a quick section, and one that feels fantastic when you get it just right.”
Immediately back on the pace on the exit of Bergwerk, the groundbreaking RaceActive Chassis Control (RCC) ensures the McLaren remains planted and balanced through a particularly bumpy section of track.#
“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,” Goodwin continues, “The relentless climb towards the Karussell 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 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.”