Mercedes powered McLaren and their drivers to four world championships and 78 race wins in two decades before the pair split in 2014.
The two have reunited and McLaren will launch their first Mercedes-powered car for seven years today. How will it measure up to its predecessors? Take a look at all 20 of them, from the title-winners to the one that never even started a race.
1995 McLaren MP4-10, MP4-10B and MP4-10C
17 races, 0 wins, 0 poles, 30 points
McLaren agreed terms with Mercedes during their poor 1994 campaign with Peugeot, which ended without a win. But the new partnership didn’t get off to a great start: Nigel Mansell didn’t comfortably fit into the MP4-10 and missed the opening races as a result. He only did two races in the widened MP4-10B before walking out, leaving the car to Mark Blundell. A further revised C-spec car was introduced for the Portuguese Grand Prix, to little avail.
Jan Magnussen made a one-off appearance in place of an unwell Mika Hakkinen at the Pacific Grand Prix, but on his return Hakkinen took an encouraging second at Suzuka. The year ended badly, however, when Hakkinen was injured in a frightening crash at Adelaide.
1996 McLaren MP4-11
16 races, 0 wins, 0 poles, 49 points
Race-winner David Coulthard was lured from Williams to replace Blundell, but McLaren and Mercedes failed to reach the top step in an otherwise improved 1996 campaign. On the technical side Steve Nichols returned and the team made clear progress as the season progressed. Long-time title sponsor Marlboro switched to Ferrari at the end of the year, and McLaren embraced Mercedes silver colouring through another tobacco brand.
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1997 McLaren MP4-12
17 races, 3 wins, 1 pole, 63 points
McLaren’s technical operation was further bolstered by the hiring of Adrian Newey in 1997, though his focus was the team’s 1998 car, which was built to drastically overhauled technical regulations. Nonetheless Mercedes’ consistently improving engine helped the team win its first race for three years at the season-opener, courtesy of Coulthard. He added another at Monza and could have done the same at Jerez, but complied with his team’s request to let Hakkinen through.
1998 McLaren MP4-13
16 races, 9 wins, 12 poles, 156 points
Unlucky 13? Not a bit of it. The MP4-13 put McLaren back on top. Its combination of Newey-honed aerodynamics, a potent Mercedes engine plus a timely switch to Bridgestone tyres – with rivals Goodyear on the verge of quitting – made for a supremely competitive machine. One of its innovations – a third pedal for independent brake control which had been introduced on its predecessor – caught the eye of the sport’s governing body and was banned. But that didn’t stop the team sweeping both titles, Hakkinen claiming the drivers championship.
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1999 McLaren MP4-14
16 races, 7 wins, 11 poles, 124 points
While Hakkinen doubled up, McLaren lost the constructors’ title to Ferrari. The MP4-14’s drivers also found it somewhat more unforgiving than its predecessor – Hakkinen spun away chances to win both Italian rounds. Coulthard picked up a pair of wins as well, but didn’t endear himself to the team by letting Eddie Irvine in to win the Austrian Grand Prix after knocking Hakkinen into a spin at the start.
2000 McLaren MP4-15
17 races, 7 wins, 7 poles, 162 points
Ferrari finally got the better of McLaren in 2000, when reliability problems with the MP4-15 blunted their early-season campaign. Hakkinen lost his hard-won championship lead to Michael Schumacher at Indianapolis when his engine let go. Ominously for the team, Ferrari were increasingly a match for them in outright performance as well, taking pole position for 10 of the 17 races.
2001 McLaren MP4-16
17 races, 4 wins, 2 poles, 102 points
By 2001 the McLaren drivers had over 800bhp from their Mercedes V10s, despite a ban on the use of beryllium which forced some changes to their engines. But Ferrari were now more than a match for them in several key areas: power, downforce and reliability. Hakkinen seemed out of sorts for much of the season and opted for a sabbatical at the end of the year, which in due course turned out to be a full retirement. Coulthard took up the fight in the drivers championship but with four races to go it was all over.
2002 McLaren MP4-17 and 2003 McLaren MP4-17D
33 races, 3 wins, 2 poles, 207 points
With Bridgestone’s development effort increasingly centred around Ferrari, McLaren switched to Michelin rubber for 2002. But the MP4-17, honed the team’s new wind tunnel, was neither quick nor reliable enough to mount a title bid.
Coulthard scored its only victory in Monaco – payback for the electronics glitch which prevented him starting the previous year’s race from pole position – and new team mate Kimi Raikkonen should have taken his first win at Magny-Cours, only to skid wide on oil dropped by Allan McNish’s Toyota. That allowed Schumacher in to win and wrap the title up with six races to spare.
Stung by Ferrari’s crushing dominance, McLaren began 2003 with an evolution of the previous year’s car while honing a more radical machine for later introduction. However the upgraded 2002 machine proved enough for Raikkonen to keep Schumacher honest in the title fight until the final round, and the new car was put on ice until the following year.
2003 McLaren MP4-18A
0 races, 0 wins, 0 poles, 0 points
In a bold attempt to propel themselves back to the top, McLaren readied a revolutionary new design incorporating a more compact Mercedes FO 110P V10, a carbon fibre gearbox casing and aggressively tight packaging for maximum aerodynamic benefit. But it failed to run reliably in testing and was never raced.
2004 McLaren MP4-19A and MP4-19B
18 races, 1 win, 2 poles, 69 points
By 2004 the team finally had a race-ready evolution of the MP4-18A. Outwardly similar to the unraced car, it made greater concessions towards reliability as, for the first time, teams were required to use a single engine for an entire race weekend. But it proved a step backwards on the track at the beginning of the year, and McLaren quickly took the decision to produce a B-spec version with revised aerodynamics. This was pressed into service at mid-season and Raikkonen took the team’s only win with it at Spa, providing some distraction from Schumacher’s fifth consecutive title triumph.
2005 McLaren MP4-20
18 races, 10 wins, 7 poles, 182 points
In another rules innovation, teams had to use one set of tyres per race in 2005. McLaren responded to the challenge superbly, winning more grands prix than anyone else.
However Raikkonen suffered technical failures at Imola and the Nurburgring while leading, and also fell foul of the new two-race engines rule. That cost him points in his fight with eventual champion Fernando Alonso. He did take a magnificent win at Suzuka, but in the Shanghai finale Renault denied McLaren the constructors title in the final race for V10 engines.
2006 McLaren MP4-21
18 races, 0 wins, 3 poles, 110 points
Mercedes produced the new FO 108 S as Formula 1 made the switch to V8 power. However there was little sign of McLaren reprising its 2005 form amid yet another change in the regulations – tyre changes were now permitted again.
The situation wasn’t help by upheaval on the driving side, as Juan Pablo Montoya left the team at mid-season following a collision with Raikkonen at Indianapolis. Pedro de la Rosa took his place. But for the first time in 10 years, McLaren and Mercedes ended a season win-less.
2007 McLaren MP4-22
17 races, 8 wins, 8 poles, 218 points
It should have been a season of triumph for McLaren and Mercedes, but it ended in bitter acrimony. With Raikkonen off to Ferrari, reigning world champion Alonso joined as his replacement, while the impressive GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton became the first driver in 12 years to make his debut in a McLaren. They won four races each but ended the year one point behind Raikkonen after an astonishing finale.
The team was also found guilty of using intellectual property supplied by a disgruntled ex-Ferrari employee, fined a jaw-dropping $100 million, and thrown out of a championship they could have won.
2008 McLaren MP4-23
18 races, 6 wins, 8 poles, 151 points
The MP4-23 was launched at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Heikki Kovalainen having joined in place of Alonso. The new car was inspected by the FIA to provide necessary assurances no Ferrari IP had been used.
But McLaren rebounded from its humiliating 2007 season superbly, Hamilton avenging the title he narrowly lost the year before. There were several dramas along the way, notably when he crashed into Raikkonen in the pits at Montreal and was stripped of victory at Spa on questionable grounds. Yet even those paled in comparison to the unforgettable title-decider where Hamilton lost the championship lead in the dying laps, only to regain it at the final corner.
2009 McLaren MP4-24
17 races, 2 wins, 4 poles, 71 points
McLaren didn’t immediately get a handle on the new aerodynamic regulations which were introduced for the 2009 season, and took until mid-season to ready an upgrade for their MP4-24 which brought them on terms with the likes of Brawn GP and Red Bull. Mercedes, however, made a fine job of its Kinetic Energy Recovery System – the first taking advantage of rules permitting greener F1 engines – and Hamilton scored the first victory for hybrid power in F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
2010 McLaren MP4-25
19 races, 5 wins, 1 pole, 454 points
KERS was temporarily banned in 2010 but McLaren cooked up another innovation – the F-duct. This was a cunning workaround of the aerodynamic rules which allowed its drivers to stall the airflow over its rear wing on straights to reduce drag and gain speed. Hamilton and his new team mate, reigning champion Jenson Button, wielded it superbly, winning five times.
But in this highly competitive season, Hamilton was one of four title contenders at the final race. Sebastian Vettel took the honours for Red Bull while Hamilton, counting the cost of a few earlier misfortunes, ended the year 16 points behind. However another development indicated change was coming for the McLaren-Mercedes relationship – the three-pointed star now had its own team, having purchased shock 2009 champions Brawn.
2011 McLaren MP4-26
19 races, 6 wins, 1 pole, 497 points
The MP4-26 was unveiled in an imaginative launch in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, where parts of the car were carried to the scene and assembled before the watching crowd. The sensitive parts were disguised, of course, and so much the better as its radical exhaust system didn’t work and had to be hurriedly replaced pre-season. Hamilton had a weirdly off-colour year, including several incidents, and Button led the charge against the dominant Red Bulls.
2012 McLaren MP4-27
20 races, 7 wins, 8 poles, 378 points
Victory for Button in the season-opener gave McLaren cause for encouragement. Two races later, however, Mercedes scored their first F1 win as an outright constructor since the fifties. Nonetheless McLaren remained the stronger team, and Hamilton briefly led the championship. Persistent reliability problems dogged his efforts and the title went to Vettel again.
Following overtures from Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda, Hamilton threw his lot in with Mercedes, a decision which mystified many at the time, but has since been vindicated in spectacular fashion. He should have won his last race for McLaren but was taken out by Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India. Button prevailed instead; eight seasons later, this remains McLaren’s most recent victory.
2013 McLaren MP4-28
19 races, 0 wins, 0 poles, 122 points
Sergio Perez arrived in place of Hamilton but McLaren were entering their wilderness years. No wins or poles came their way; in contrast, Mercedes’s works team managed three and eight respectively. The blame was pinned on the MP4-28 being a too-aggressive evolution of their largely successful 2012 machine. Particularly as the V8 era was drawing to a close, and a new generation of vastly more sophisticated power units were being ushered in.
2014 McLaren MP4-29
19 races, 0 wins, 0 poles, 181 points
The first year of the V6 hybrid turbo era was the final one for McLaren and Mercedes until the 2021 F1 season. McLaren were readying themselves for a reunion with Honda which promised a return to true works status.
In the meantime their 2014 campaign began well as both drivers finished the opening race in the top three – Button third, Kevin Magnussen second, the latter completing a neat symmetry by driving McLaren’s final Mercedes-powered car 19 years after his father drive their first. But that two-three result proved their best finish of the season. McLaren fell to fifth in the standings, far behind fellow Mercedes customers Williams.
To their dismay, McLaren found they had further to fall in the years to come. Meanwhile Mercedes soared ever higher after the pair went their separate ways.
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