The cabin of the McLaren P1 GTR has been revealed for the first time as the Woking-based manufacturer continues to develop its track-focused, limited-edition hypercar.
Using the (slightly) more road-oriented McLaren P1 as a base, the cockpit has been stripped out, with a greater focus on driver engagement and weight saving, albeit without compromising comfort or safety.
A new steering wheel based on the item used in the MP4-23, McLaren's 2008 Formula 1 car, is exclusive to the P1 GTR, which was first revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August.
Key controls are located to the centre of the wheel, allowing the driver to fully adjust the set-up and characteristics of the car without having to take their hands from the wheel. The DRS and IPAS buttons for the Drag Reduction System (DRS) and Instant Power Assist System (IPAS) are retained on the steering wheel.
McLaren says it has configured the controls so they can be comfortably operated when the driver is wearing a full race suit, helmet and gloves.
The cabin is equipped with lightweight carbonfibre seats similar to those used in DTM touring cars and full six-point motorsport harnesses. These will be set up for each P1 GTR owner, and mounted directly to the chassis, reducing weight by having no additional mounting brackets. The seats are compatible with a Head and Neck Safety (HANS) device.
Unlike some stripped-out track cars, the air-con system is retained in the P1 GTR to maintain comfort during track driving.
The carbonfibre MonoCage chassis is carried over from the road car, and weighs 90kg including the upper and lower structures, roof snorkel, engine air intake cavity, battery and power electronics housing.
The development programme for the car has focused on testing the capabilities of the upgraded powertrain, optimising the balance and handling characteristics on the car's Pirelli slick tyres, and working through aerodynamic developments including the fixed-height rear wing.
Company officials reported: "All tests were completed with results meeting or, in many cases exceeding, the stringent targets set. The McLaren P1 GTR development continues its rapid progress, with further mileage scheduled over the winter throughout Europe".
McLaren has now switched the focus of its testing with the P1 GTR to extremely hot conditions, taking its latest development prototype to the Bahrain International Circuit.
The British company has also revealed more details of its P1 GTR Driver Programme, which will teach owners how to get the best out of the car.
P1 GTR owners will gain access to areas of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking that are off-limits to the public, including the company's racing simulator.
Paul Mackenzie, McLaren P1 GTR Programme Director, said: "Before they get out on track, each driver will join us at the MTC and have unprecedented access to the cutting edge facilities.
"This will enable drivers to build up a greater understanding of the car?s capabilities and true performance, as well as learning the braking and turn-in points before they arrive at the circuit. It also allows them to analyse and discuss their performance ahead of testing themselves in the real world situation, so they are fully prepared when they take to the track.
"It is a programme that has been developed over the years for our Formula 1? and our young drivers. It?s not just about fitness, but also about mental preparation, and looks at the full wellbeing of the driver, and prepares them mentally and physically for the activities they will experience on track."
McLaren P1 GTR owners will take part in six track events during the first year of the Driver Programme. The events will take place at "iconic racing Formula 1 circuits across the world".
At each event, drivers will have a dedicated race team responsible for running the car. This will include a personal driver coach and head engineer, who will work through telemetry and video analysis to hone skills, and optimise lap times.
The car, revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours d?Elegance, will go on sale in just under 12 months after production of the standard P1 ends. It will only be offered to the existing 375 P1 owners and will cost £1.98 million.
Watch McLaren's official video explaining its P1 GTR Driver Programme:
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The most powerful version of the rather handsome new Volkswagen Passat is a four-cylinder diesel.
With quite complicated plumbing arrangements, this engine is force-fed by twin turbos, one low pressure and one high, and to pretty good effect given the 369lb ft of torque that you can undam from 1750rpm. The blower?s turbines are of different sizes, and arranged to ensure that you?re rarely short of the kind of low rev thrust that diesels are so good at delivering.
But while engineering this was an effort, it appears to have been nothing compared to the challenge of persuading the Wolfsburg management to approve an engine capable of delivering enough thrust for a range-topping Passat.
According to VW?s head of product development Jens Andersen, the powertrain department presented several engines to the board, including a transverse five cylinder, a transverse six (it was too wide with the gearbox, he says) and the final twin-turbo four among others.
The stumbling block each time was cost, the earlier solutions generating too much of it for the bosses to be convinced that it could be viable.
As it turns out, the twin-turbo four hasn?t been a cheap motor to engineer either, turbos being expensive devices, the precise control of a pair of them an involved development process and most of its innards have been beefed up to cope with the forces of its extra power. It wasn?t easy to fit the engine beneath the Passat?s bonnet either, given the bulk of the extra plumbing.
So how did this engine get past the board? In the end, says Andersen, enough money had been spent on it that it was cheaper to finish the job rather than abandon it, he explains with a grin.
It?s an engine that will eventually appear in a few other big VWs (it?s too bulky for the Golf) although Andersen isn?t saying which. His hope now is that the engine will find enough buyers to justify the outlay.
And does it deserve to? It certainly delivers a solid stream of stream of thrust, and it?s impressively smooth at higher revs, but the taxi-ish pulse at the lower revs that you often run at is a disappointment. And the extra go sometimes proves a severe test for the Passat?s electronic dampers.
But driven at eight-tenths, which is surely how most 2.0 TDI 4Motion Passats will proceed, you?ll enjoy effortlessly swift progress.
News on Monday morning that Ford is spending £190 million to expand Dagenham production of 2.0-litre turbodiesels for use in both vans and cars ? and has won an £8.9 million grant from the government?s Regional Growth Fund into the bargain ? makes certain elements of both the daily media and the political classes look rather silly. And confuses many people.
For many weekends recently, the Sunday papers have published stories from academic research sources to the effect that the decades of encouragement we?ve had to buy diesel cars ? mainly because, on balance, they?re cleaner ? is completely wrong.
The combination of exhaust particulates and oxides of nitrogen they emit, not well enough measured in current official tests, is allegedly killing both us and our children. London mayor Boris Johnson has been vocal about the damage being done by diesels ? yet David Cameron and Vince Cable deal out financial incentives to encourage further production, in outer London, regardless.
What?s the truth, then? The overall situation is simple, but poorly explained. The official tests are indeed inadequate. They need urgent overhaul to better measure particulates and nitrogen oxides, and in typical, not laboratory use.
Equally, the activists need to acknowledge that the problem is on its way to being defeated: the Euro 6 standards that latest diesels are required to meet by September but many meet now ? admittedly measured in the old way ? are already clean enough to pass the standards Boris has in mind for his 2017 ultra low-emission zone.
The Euro 6 standards are particularly strict on especially on particulates and NOx, though neither the mayor?s people nor the activists seem inclined to acknowledge the progress.
The desirable situation, as usual, sits between extremes. The tests need revision, and soon. Those with diesels with exhaust standards below Euro 6 need to keep them out of polluted and congested areas ? preparatory to swapping them as soon as possible for something cleaner.
And by the way, Boris and company could bite the bullet and rid the metropolis of the many ancient taxi diesels they still allow to ply our inner city, individually pumping out more exhaust rubbish than any other 20 cars of the past decade. Why they?re still allowed is beyond us all.
Bottom line? Well done Ford for upping production of ultra-clean diesels. Well done the government for encouraging them to do it. These engines will surely replace dirtier ones. Well done the activists, also, for continuing to point out the grievous inadequacies of current testing, even if you are seeing fit to leave out a part of the story not convenient to your narrative.
Now is the time for an honest broker equipped with accurate research findings to emerge from the gloom and tell us a balanced story.
Plenty of us are owners of venerable diesels; we need advice about what to do with them. If it?s curtains, someone needs to tell us. But who will it be?