McLaren announce name change for 2017 car

2017 F1 season

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The last of the MP4s: 2016’s MP4-31
McLaren has announced its new car for the 2017 F1 season will not use the previously announced name MP4-32.

The team will instead call its latest F1 machine the MCL32.

The change marks a significant departure from the ‘MP4’ nomenclature which was introduced when Ron Dennis took over the team in 1981. Dennis was ousted as the group’s CEO last year and Zak Brown installed as the new executive director.

MP4 originally stood for ‘Marlboro-Project Four’ in reference to the team’s title sponsor, and was later referred to as ‘McLaren Project Four’. The name was adopted from the Project Four team Dennis ran in Formula Two before taking over McLaren.

McLaren also used the MP4 designation as part of its road car branding. The MP4-12C two-seater was launched in 2011. However McLaren later referred to the car simply as the 12C.

McLaren will launch the MCL32 on February 24th.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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98 comments on “McLaren announce name change for 2017 car”

  1. How pointlessly annoying.

    1. How annoyingly pointless :)

      1. Less points, how annoying!!

        1. Bob Christensen
          3rd February 2017, 12:13

          We have a winner! Give that man a cigar :-)

          1. LOL this made my day!

        2. Annoyingly pointless how?

    2. ExcitedAbout17
      3rd February 2017, 14:13

      Zak Brown shows to be a marketing genius pulling this one off.

  2. How much quicker does this new name make the car go?

    1. According to Honda this update is at least 12 seconds faster on average.

    2. Steven Van Langendonck
      3rd February 2017, 13:11

      Indeed. If they really were that concerned with performance they would have switched to 64 bit while they had the chance!

      1. Mclaren claims .05-.07 seconds lost as a result of no longer hauling ron dennis’s legacy…

  3. So they’ve decided to name it after a knee ligament?

    1. A crucial point

      1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        3rd February 2017, 19:10

        Was that kneeded?

    2. maybe that explains why they spent most of the hybrid ere in the sidelines

      1. So after the next engine blow-up, it is a torn MCL?

    3. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      3rd February 2017, 12:38

      So it’s a knee-jerk reaction

      1. You’ve made me snort more air through my nostrils than usual.

    4. LOL holy crap, this thread is gold. I snorted.

      1. I can already envision both drivers STANDING at the back of the grid prior to the warmup lap. No wait, Alonso will surely have a beach chair.

  4. Disappointing but not surprising. MP4’s were a Ron Dennis thing, so I expected a name change after he was forced out.

    1. McLaren going through a teenage relationship breakup, must change everything about their life that had anything to do with their ex…. Even if utterly pointless.

      1. Exactly. This is the F1 equivalent of a teenage girl getting a haircut after a messy breakup…

      2. Brilliant analogy

        1. second that Hugh. All i have to say (apart from being annoyed) is at least if this doesn’t go well we can all look back to the ‘GLORY DAYS OF THE MP4 AND ITS CREATOR’.
          i am upset and can only keep reassuring myself that the name had to hit the record books at some point. Better now that Ron has been booted. it makes a complete tale and a colourful one at that.

          but just to reassure you – i am annoyed – hugely

  5. How about rumors McLaren ditching Honda for BMW? Of course won’t going to happen’ this year but maybe somewhere in the future…

    1. Where did you hear that? Source?

    2. How about them? They’re completely made up.

      1. It is the tie with the McLaren Road Car division and BMW that has people starting the wondering rumors. Curious to me is why no tie in with Honda for the road car?

        1. Given mclaren hondas f1 performance would you buy a mclaren honda road car?!

        2. dbHenry, there is a precedent for that – when McLaren built the McLaren F1 roadcar, Murray initially asked Honda, their partner in F1, to produce an engine for that car, only for them to decline. After discussions with Isuzu and Yamaha, they eventually formed a partnership with BMW.

          Furthermore, the arrangement with BMW is part of a partnership with six other specialist manufacturers and research institutes, including Ricardo (the mechanical engineering specialist that produces McLaren’s engines) and the University of Bath, that is conducting research into advanced engine technologies.

          What is really happening here is that McLaren and BMW are parties in a joint research project to develop new technology that they might then be able to use in their own engines. BMW has had a number of such research projects with other manufacturers – for example, between 2011 and 2014 they ran a very similar scheme in conjunction with Ford and Peugeot.

          All in all, frankly it looks more like a case of misleading headlines from journalists sloppily reporting on what is actually happening coupled with overly excited fans misinterpreting the details of the agreement to read what they want to see happen, rather than what is actually happening.

    3. I seriously doubt any new manufacturers will come in during the current engine regs, so you’re looking at 2021 at the earliest if I remember correctly.

  6. Well they are working together. Just not on an F1 engine at the moment.

  7. @keithcollantine Do you have any information about the collaboration between McLaren and BMW ?. According to some sites BMW is working in secret on a V6 engine to join F1 again that’s why they team up with McLaren automotive branch.

  8. To see how hard (and incredibly espensive) it is for Honda to come in and do a good job and then how hard it is to catch up (and even more expensive). It must have made manufactueres looking to get in F1 very,very reluctant.

    Also with the FIA bringing down the cost for customer teams on these engines, it would be pretty stupid to start a multi billion $ development cycle now.

    1. Is the Honda PU really that bad, though? I have to say i’m more than sceptical about Mclaren claiming their Chassis is on par with basically anything. i mean this is the team that failed to produce a podium-scoring car in 2013 off the back of the fastest car due to their “from scratch” approach that looked rather like its predecessor in every way… i think those folks are so full of it, i wouldn’t trust them to design a turtle.

      1. @mrboerns

        Is the Honda PU really that bad, though?

        Probably not. It easily overtook the 2015-spec Ferrari engine, which means it’s in the same ballpark as Renault, lagging behind Mercedes and Ferrari, but not enormously so.
        The entire project has suffered from a late change of plans that led to Honda having to ready an engine a year earlier than initially planned. The engine was never really bad, it was just not really ready to race in 2015, and its development is essentially lagging almost a year behind.

        1. nase, whilst the 2016 Honda power unit certainly had flaws, so did the 2016 McLaren chassis (even if McLaren ran a quite aggressive press campaign claiming that they had a great chassis).

          There are reports that they had issues with poor rear traction due to the geometry of the rear suspension, which McLaren tried to get around by focussing on increasing the downforce generated at the rear of the car. Over the past few years, there has also been a suggestion that a number of McLaren’s cars have had problems with pitch instability, leading them to run particularly stiff suspension set ups that may have exacerbated their rear traction issues.

          1. whilst the 2016 Honda power unit certainly had flaws, so did the 2016 McLaren chassis (even if McLaren ran a quite aggressive press campaign claiming that they had a great chassis).

            I am not claiming the opposite by any means!

            In my opinion, all that talk of having the best chassis on the grid, only being held back by a subpar engine, was just that – talk.
            I think it’s fair to say that the Honda engine is not as good as the one raced by Mercedes or Ferrari, but I can’t shake the feeling that the difference is greatly over-estimated.

          2. nase, I am sorry if it came across wrongly, but I meant to agree with your comment about McLaren’s 2016 chassis not being as strong as they claimed it was.

            To be fair, I don’t think they ever claimed it was the best in the field – Boullier did claim later in the season that they had overtaken Ferrari to have the third best chassis in the field, though my impression from the posters here is that most would probably put it around 4th or 5th on the grid at best (behind Ferrari and probably also behind Toro Rosso).

            With regards to the power unit, it seems that the peak power in qualifying trim is perhaps not so much of an issue – the suggestion is that the problems are more related to fuel consumption in race trim, forcing the drivers to drop into lower power engine modes (McLaren did seem to have to manage their fuel more carefully than their rivals if the radio messages are anything to go by), and the efficiency with which the MGU-H can recover energy from the exhaust stream (the suggestion being that McLaren’s insistence on a more compact power unit necessitated the use of a sub-optimal turbine design – not so much in terms of the size, but rather more relating to the behaviour of the turbine under load and the way in which they can then recover energy from that unit through the MGU-H).

            I’ve seen one engineer who apparently works for Honda comment that Mercedes’s true strength is not in terms of peak power as, just as you comment, Mercedes’s peak power advantage does seem to be smaller than is claimed. Rather, it is the efficiency of Mercedes’s MGU-H system that really sets them apart, since that enables them to maximise the performance of their power unit over the length of the entire lap in race trim in a way that their rivals cannot.

          3. Alonso claimed after the season ended that the chassis was very good – enough so for him to feel comfortable running flat out.

      2. There were reliability issues in 2015, especially in the first half of that year, but last year the engine did seem to be much better. Even so, there were two big hurdles for Honda, one was the Token System. Every time they wanted to change the design of a part of the engine they had to see how many Tokens would be used. You couldn’t undertake an endless program of reliability issues without hitting a Token barrier. The other hurdle was they were lumbered with McLaren’s “Size Zero” aerodynamic concept, where McLaren gave Honda a less than optimal amount of space into which the power unit was supposed to fit. Consequently some parts of the engine layout weren’t in the ideal places or weren’t the ideal size right at from the start.
        I’m not certain, but I believe that “burbling” noise you heard from the Honda engine was because the exhaust turbine was too small so exhaust gases had to by pass it, and the lower maximum all out speed compared to other cars suggested a smaller electric generator in the MGU-H than other cars had. If this is correct, then one would have thought the easy way to fix this was to put in a bigger turbine and a bigger electrical generator, so the only reason you wouldn’t was because of space … which is McLaren’s responsibility.
        The problem I see for McLaren if they dump Honda is Honda will believe they weren’t given a fair chance to make a decent engine. Hopefully McLaren have now given Honda more space to fit their power unit system into.

        1. @drycrust
          Well, it’s not quite as simple as that, but I think it’s fair to assume that McLaren really hurt themselves with that Size Zero concept, forcing Honda to repeat the same error Ferrari had made in 2014, i.e. over-estimating the importance of aerodynamic efficiency versus outright power.

      3. A turtle is infinitely more complex than an F1 car, even the McLaren Honda

        1. In Case of mclaren its also faster

  9. I think I’ll change my name too, it might make me faster!
    hk32? , goodbye kitty, …???

    1. fast kitty?

      1. yeah, fast kitty. I like it.
        Why didn’t I think of that?

        1. Main sponsor…Purrolator!

    2. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      3rd February 2017, 12:43

      If your new name can be confused with Heikki Kovalainen 32, I don’t think it will make you faster.

    3. Tell that to Red Bull. “We’ll rebrand our engines as TAG-Heuer, that’ll make us faster, hurr durr …”

    4. I’m very pleased Zak ignored my suggestion to rename the cars “Its my team now, MINE MINE MINE! 17”.

    5. Faster Pussycat? (80’s hair band, shows my age.)

  10. Incidentally on the subject of what MP4 stands for, which comes up a lot, McLaren’s own history of their cars states the following in the body text:

    “The MP4/1 brought a change to McLaren’s established nomenclature, standing for McLaren Project Four…”

    And the following in an image caption on the same page:

    “The official name for the new car, MP4 was understood to stand for ‘Marlboro Project Four’ although everyone recognised the car as a McLaren.”

    There are plenty of contemporary accounts referring to the original cars as ‘Marlboro Project Fours’.

    Personally, as MP4/1 succeeded M30, I think MCL62 would’ve been better.

    1. Tommy Scragend
      3rd February 2017, 12:10

      Or MCL1? Then there would be three distinct eras of McLarens. Pre-Ron, Ron and post-Ron, each starting from the beginning.

      I accept that there are bigger issues in the world, but I can understand the change in naming. The link to “MP4” has gone, so change it.

      1. Really good idea, they should have named it MCL1!
        This change is everything but unexpected, nevertheless I feel sad for it. In the end, I will get used to it, but how fast things change…

    2. Personally, as MP4/1 succeeded M30, I think MCL62 would’ve been better.

      @keithcollantine Exactly what I was going to mentioned. If they are going to change the MP4 why are they keeping the number? Something like MCL62 or MCL52 (for their 52nd year in F1) would be much better.

      1. “Something like MCL62 or MCL52 (for their 52nd year in F1) would be much better.”

        I don’t like this mixing of Roman and modern numerals.
        MCCXII or MCCII would surely be better ?

        Or if it’s a reference to the sponsor, M&C 62.

        1. MCL = McLaren

          1. Or, McLaren Cars Limited

    3. I was going to say the same – MCL62 would have been better.

      Also, I’m surprised they left it this late to announce it given that they’d been referring to it as the MP4-32 for ages, as you said at the start of the article.

      1. Also maybe they could have used this as an opportunity to give reference to their Honda partnership. The MH3 or something

    4. MCL17 with the current year in mind would had been ok i think.

    5. It’s pretty bland having MCL, RB and STR as car names on the grid. Even FW begins to look exotic by referring to the founder’s first name.

      1. There is VJ -read vajayjay in my mind- also named after the team principal.

        The new name doesn’t have any ring to it though. The MCL doesn’t read as nice as MP.. In my head it sounds like “mackle 32”

  11. At least the “supposedly” have the most talented driver in their team to drive their MCL32. (Rolling 👀)

    1. SomeoneFromBelgium
      4th February 2017, 7:56

      They do. And he is a Belgian!

  12. Utterly pathetic and hypocritical.

    MP4 isn’t “Ron’s thing”. Everything that McLaren name is today in the world of motorsport, the world of auto industry, the world of technology and the world of luxury, is “Ron’s thing”.
    Bruce is the founder, but the prestige, the name, the success, the fortune the sheer size and width of McLaren brand’s expertise today, is Ron’s vision.

    This really seem utterly hypocritical in the fact that they seem to really want to remove Ron’s name from ever existing, yet they still want to keep all the fruits of his labor, all that McLaren is today.

    If anything, they should have kept the MP4 in the name forever, in honor of his legacy. There wasn’t “Ron’s thing” or “Ron’s era” or anything. Ron IS McLaren. I know that Bruce is the founder, but there’s no doubt as to which individual had by far the most influence in shaping the McLaren and spent more time growing it than anyone else. And he did it all in someone else’s name. He didn’t change the team’s name into Dennis or something silly like that, like most owners do.

    The weight that Bruce’s last name holds today, is thanks to a man called Ron Dennis. A man who didn’t come from some fancy university for marketing or management and changed few white-collar jobs before coming to “manage” a well developed organization. It’s a guy who started as a mechanic and showed interest and love for the sport, long before it made him rich.

    At least that much respect is owed to Ron as well, by those who will succeed him.

    1. Here here! Love him or loath him, Run Dennis is an icon of F1 Team ownership, Frank got a knight hood, what’s Ron got? Yet he built the company way past anything Williams could.

    2. How is it hypocritical?

    3. Exactly. Bruce started the team, but Ron built it into a powerhouse. Without him it would have gone the way of Brabham, Prost or Stewart. That won’t be forgotten with a slight name change.

      1. I agree but the Bahrain guy proved to be one big man child going crazy in trying to make anything that involves Ron disappear.

  13. Duncan Snowden
    3rd February 2017, 13:20

    Did not see that coming.

    I think it’s a pity. Okay, Ron’s gone so they’re free to return to orange as everyone expects them to, which will be great, but the MP4 designation was one of the things that made McLaren distinctive. It’s is a bit like Ferrari deciding to remove the prancing horse from the side of its cars, or Monaco shifting practice to Friday. One of the little traditions of the sport has been lost.

    Then again, it’s hardly going to make the cars go any slower. If they start getting podiums again (wins seem a little too much to hope for at this stage), nobody’s going to care much.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      3rd February 2017, 13:33

      In a way I agree but it’s different….

      If I think of a red F1 car or see a prancing horse, I think “FERRARI.”

      If I think of a grey/silver F1 car and “MP4-…..”, I think of Ron, not McLaren.

      If this is supposed to be the start of a new era, I can understand how they’d want to mark it in some way and changing the name of the car achieves that without really affecting anything… The mistake they have made is not calling it something that suggests “new era.” MCL1 would have done that. Or something like MP5-1. Ooooohhhhhhh they’ve initiated Project 5!!!!

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        3rd February 2017, 16:27

        Project 5 would have been a cool idea

  14. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    3rd February 2017, 13:52

    I’m pleased actually. New beginning, new brand, new image. Project 4 was Ron Dennis old team. Not relevant anymore.

  15. I find this utterly disrespectful to a man that really built that empire.. When I look at anything McLaren, I see Ron’s way of thinking, and more than the drivers or the relative success of this team on the last 25 years since I started following F1, this is what made me fall in love with McLaren. That obsessive cold clinical approach to everything, but with an underlying burning passion, McLaren was always a team full of personality. And I’m afraid that in the pursuit of erasing everything Ron, McLaren end up becoming just one more like any other.

  16. A petty kick up the backside for Ron as he is thrown out the door.

  17. I liked Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the MP4-12C commented that it was for some reason “named after a Fax Machine”. I appreciate this name change as a small gesture toward creating the type of machines that exlicet excitement and other positive feelings that can come from otherwise unquantified things.

  18. I personally liked the “MP4” name, it sort of made me think of McLaren as fast as a bullet, but now this is not more :(

    oh well things change as time goes.

  19. They should have just called it the McLaren Ronless.

  20. What’s in a name…? As long as the new McLaren wins World Championships they can call it anything the want.
    I would have picked PR001 as in Post Ron 1 or PJ001 as in Post Jensen 1 or BBL001 as in Bring Back Lewis 1 or FSW010 as in Fernando Stop Whining 10

  21. So, Mclaren’s got a new name, probably a new livery and a new title sponsor by 2018. Too bad the car is still going to be an absolute cr*pbox regardless of Brown’s marketing and PR efforts.

  22. I’m glad to see Zak Brown is having such a significant impact on McLaren.

  23. I am disappointed that McLaren have changed the naming system for their F1 cars, I liked the way that long established teams such as McLaren and Williams have kept the same naming system for as long as I have been following the sport since the early 1990s.

    However good the road car MP4-12C was I never liked that name, as due to the McLaren naming system that should have been the name of later version of their 1997 F1 car not the name of a road car.

    I think dropping the MP4 says something about the politics at the top of McLaren that they felt the need to change the F1 car naming system as soon as they got rid of Ron Dennis. It is something, which on the one hand is relatively minor but on the other hand is very significant and part of the team’s history.

    Bruce McLaren founded the team and it had success before Ron Dennis took it over, but McLaren is what it is today in F1 and road cars because of Ron Dennis, and from the outside this change seems like it was to get at Ron Dennis which I find disrespectful.

    I haven’t really been able to keep up with all the developments and news regarding the McLaren power struggle over the last month or so but unless I have missed it the ownership structure has not changed and Ron Dennis still owns 25% of the team, so it is not as if the team has new owners just new management.

    1. I think he owns only 11%.

      1. @faulty, I believe that he owns 11% of McLaren Automotive – what is more important is his 25% holding in the wider McLaren Group, since that is the parent company of the racing division.

    2. Although I don’t know of which company.

  24. It doesn’t make any difference. They want to make clear that they are driving into a new direction and that’s it.
    But i do think MCL1 would be a better name.

  25. Fact is that Ron negociated to keep the MP4 name for him. Anyone especulating what his future plans might be?

  26. One would have thought the big brains at Mclaren were busy contemplating the new regulations all these while, and building a race car to meet with the new challenge. It never would have crossed my mind, that all these weeks and months, the had been labouring over a mere 3 letter name change.

  27. I don’t know what it is but “MCL32” just looks…clumsy, somehow.

    Also, for some reason I can’t help but think of the phrase “many a mickle makes a muckle”.

  28. It seems to me as if Ron Dennis has been made to be the fall guy and the main reason why McLaren have
    struggled in recent years. In my opinion, the team went downhill when Martin Whitmarsh took over, and the
    damage he did to the team has been totally overlooked. Whitmarsh’s legacy was the loss not only of
    Mercedes power, a company McLaren had been with since 1998, but also the loss of Lewis Hamilton back in
    Lets face it, McLaren are with Honda out of necessity not choice. McLaren didn’t want to be a customer team
    to Mercedes like Williams have been, but in the process have exposed all of their weaknesses as a team.
    As good as Ron Dennis is, not even his experience could turn around the team, and I seriously doubt that
    a Yank fresh out of college will either!

  29. It’s a shame they’re getting rid of the old name, considering its significance within the sport.

    The new name is hardly a work of art.

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