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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1984
Numbers built:3
Designed by:John Barnard for McLaren
Predecessor:McLaren MP4/1C Cosworth
Successor:McLaren MP4/2B TAG-Porsche
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 10, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionUnder the guidance of new owner Ron Dennis, McLaren quickly re-established itself as a Grand Prix winning team in the early 1980s. A vital ingredient in this rise was the ground-breaking carbon-fibre monocoque chassis designed by John Barnard. What prevented the revived team from challenging for the world titles was the ageing Ford Cosworth DFV engine. The naturally aspirated V8 was still able to fight for victories but on raw power it was no longer a match for the latest generation turbocharged engines.

After getting the team back on track using the readily available DFV engine in 1981, Dennis carefully considered the options for a turbo-engine. The most obvious choices were existing or nearly ready engines like Renault's V6 and BMW's straight four. Both would require compromises to Barnard's designs, so it was decided that McLaren would commission the development of a bespoke engine from none other than Porsche. The German manufacturer had not been involved in F1 for two decades but its intimate knowledge of turbocharged engines made them the perfect partner for McLaren.

There was, however, one obstacle for Dennis to overcome; financing. Porsche were more than happy to develop the new engine but only if someone else paid for it. McLaren was in no position to carry the bulk of the costs, so an outside investor was required. Showcasing his business savvy, Dennis approached Mansour Ojjeh. His company TAG (Techniques d'Avant Garde) was at the time one of rivalling team Williams' biggest backers. The prospect of becoming a full partner and not 'just' a sponsor, inspired Ojjeh to switch sides. An investment of an estimated $5 million was made and accordingly the engines were officially badged 'TAG turbo'.

One of the key requirements for the engine was a block that was as narrow as possible to maximise the ground-effect tunnels under the car. Carefully weighing all the options, Porsche's chief engineer Hans Mezger settled for a V6 engine with an angle of 80°. Independently, Honda had come to the same conclusion for their upcoming F2 and F1 engine. By the time the first engine ran on Porsche's test-bench, in December of 1982, it had become clear that Porsche's efforts were partly in vain as ground-effect aerodynamics were banned from 1983 onwards. It was obviously too late to make any drastic changes to the design, so the original configuration was retained.

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  Article Image gallery (25) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (2)