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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1976 - 1978
Numbers built:7
Designed by:Gordon Coppuck
Predecessor:McLaren M23 Cosworth
Successor:McLaren M28 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 16, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIntroduced in 1973 and still very competitive in 1976, the McLaren M23 was a very hard act to follow. The Gordon Cuppock designed machine had taken Emerson Fittipaldi to the World Championship in 1976 and by the summer of 1976, James was still well in the fight for that year's tiltle, which he would go on to win. Cuppock nevertheless was in the process of drawing up a replacement, which was effectively a leaner and meaner evolution of the M23.

One of the key objectives when designing the new M26 Formula 1 racer was to reduce the frontal area compared to the outgoing M23. As a result, the aluminium monocoque chassis was lower and narrower than before. The rest of the mechanical package was clearly carried over from the M23 with top-rocker front suspension and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, which also featured in-board mounted brake discs. The M26 was powered by the readily available Cosworth DFV V8, mated to a Hewland gearbox with five or six forward gears.

By the summer of 1976, the first M26 chassis was ready and entered for Jochen Mass in the Dutch Grand Prix. Visually, it was nearly identical to the M23 entered for Hunt, with the much smaller side-pods the most obvious difference. While Hunt placed his M23 on the front row Mass struggled in mid-field, over a second off the pace. The German eventually finished ninth while Hunt won the race. It would be the M26's only appearance that year as the team focused on winning the World Championship with the tried and trusted M23.

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  Article Image gallery (105) Chassis (4) Specifications User Comments (1)