Lewis Hamilton missed out on his chance to drive a 1988 McLaren MP4/4 at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
But he got to drive and even earlier model yesterday evening as McLaren celebrated the extension of its long standings contract with TAG Heuer.
Hamilton drove the car, which Alain Prost won the 1986 world championship with, past lake towards the entrance of the McLaren Technology Centre, parking alongside the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23 he won his title in last year.
According to the team:
The relationship, signed in 1985, is one of the longest sporting sponsorship deals in history, and today’s announcement underlines the ongoing successes that both brands continue to enjoy together.
The team first used TAG-branded Porsche engines in 1983, fitted to a MP4/1D driven by Niki Lauda at the Dutch Grand Prix. The following year the team swept the board, winning 12 of the 16 races.
I’m not sure why the team is marking 1985 as the start of their partnership, presumably something significant changed in their co-operation. I have asked why and am waiting for an answer but if you can enlighten please do so in the comments…
Update: McLaren have explained as follows which largely matches RFB’s point in the comments:
“TAG is Techniques d’Avant Garde – the company largely owned by Mansour Ojjeh that funded the development of the 1.5-litre Porsche engine – which first appeared in our cars in late 1983. The TAG branding on the car from those days referred solely to the TAG-badged engine we ran (we rebadged the Porsche engines as TAGs). TAG also bought into the venerable Heuer watch brand – and it is that branding which first appeared on our cars from 1986. I believe the deal was originally done in 1985.”
Here are some more pictures from the event:
- Hamilton to drive Senna’s McLaren
- Goodwood Festival: Saturday round-up (Hamilton loses chance to drive Senna’s McLaren
Images (C) McLaren / TAG Heuer / Patrick Gosling