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  McLaren MP4-13 Mercedes

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1998
Numbers built:7
Designed by:Adrian Newey and Neil Oatley for McLaren
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 02, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFollowing an embarrassing spell of three seasons without a Grand Prix victory, McLaren finally returned to their winning ways in 1997 when David Coulthard won the season opener in Australia. Coulthard and his team-mate Mika Hakkinen would both add another win to McLaren's tally but the team was still overshadowed by rivals Williams and Ferrari. For 1998, the Ron Dennis lead team had another ace up their sleeve in the form of the highly talented designer Adrian Newey, who had just joined McLaren from Williams.

Newey's arrival at McLaren was well timed as for 1998 the regulations were modified to the extent that all teams had to start with virtually a clean sheet. With the aim of reducing the ever increasing cornering speeds, the maximum width was lowered by 200mm to 1,800mm and 'grooved' tyres were introduced. These featured three grooves on the front and four on the rear tyres with an eye on reducing grip. Newey teamed up with lead designer Neil Oatley and a staggering 12,000 man hours were used to ensure as little speed as possible was lost due to the new regulations.

Aerodynamic efficiency was where Newey excelled and he revised the existing chassis design accordingly. The most obvious change was the new MP4-13's front suspension, which featured push-rod actuated, longitudinally mounted torsion bar springs. This in turn allowed for a slimming down of the monocoque. Newey also worked his magic on the rest of the very clean aerodynamics package, creating one of the most compact cars on the grid. In addition to the switch to grooved tyres, McLaren also changed suppliers over the winter from long-time partner Goodyear to Bridgestone.

Engine supplier Mercedes-Benz also spared no expensive and provided McLaren with the third evolution of their 'FO 110' engine in two years. Compared to the 'E' evolution introduced at the start of 1997, the latest 'G' specification was nearly 20 kg lighter, tipping the scales at just 107 kg. As before the V10 boasted four valves per cylinder, which were actuated by tappets and pneumatic springs. It produced an impressive 760 bhp at around 16,000 rpm. This power was transferred to the rear wheels through McLaren's proprietary six-speed gearbox.

Very quick straight out of the box, the MP4-13 was driven to a one-two victory by Hakkinen and Coulthard at the first race of the season. Finishing nose to tail, the two McLaren drivers had lapped the entire field. Ferrari was quick to protest McLaren's innovative asymmetric braking system, which allowed the driver to use the brakes to steer. Even though the system received the green light over the winter, the stewards agreed with Ferrari ahead of the second race. McLaren did not protest and deactivated the system. Little of the advantage was lost as the McLarens finished in the same order again.

Ferrari bounced back with Michael Schumacher winning round three. The scene was set for a season long battle between Schumacher and Hakkinen. After four wins in the first six races, Hakkinen began to struggle, winning just two of the subsequent eight rounds. This allowed Schumacher to make up most of the ground lost. Hakkinen bounced back with a win in the penultimate round and then produced one of his best drives at the season finale at Suzuka. His eighth win of the season secured the first driver's and constructor's titles for McLaren since the early 1990s.

Over the winter the MP4-13 evolved into the MP4-14, which was once again used to great effect by Hakkinen and Coulthard, adding another driver's championship to McLaren's long list of successes. With nine wins in sixteen attempts, the MP4-13 was a huge success and more importantly decisively pulled McLaren from the doldrums. In 1999, test driver Nick Heidfeld added one more achievement to the car's tally by setting a new record on the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill-climb. His time of 41.6 seconds remains unbeaten to this day.

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  Article Image gallery (25) Chassis (1) Specifications