McLaren drops MP4 desigation

At a time McLaren is said to be looking at a retro livery, reflecting on its long successful history, the Woking team continues to airbrush one particular facet from the legend, Ron Dennis. Since 1981, shortly after Ron Dennis bought 50% of McLaren shares and became, along with Teddy Mayer, joint managing director, the Woking outfit’s F1 cars have been designated MP4 – ‘M’ for ‘Marlboro’, team sponsor at the time, and P4 for ‘Project 4′, Dennis’ preparation company which had run cars in Formula Three and Two, and which had also prepared cars for the Pro-car Championship.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at Hungarian GP

This year, as the team looks ahead to its first season without Dennis – the Briton having been dropped as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Technology Group (and its subsidiaries) in November – the car is to be designated the MCL32, last year’s car having been the MP4-31.

A source close to the team dismissed suggestions that Executive Director of the McLaren Technology Group, Zak Brown, wanted a change of image, telling Pitpass that with Marlboro not a sponsor of the team since the mid-90s and Dennis having ‘stepped down’, it seemed the right time to drop the whole MP4 designation.

Prior to Dennis’ purchase of the team, the cars, be they F1, Indy, Can-Am or F5000, were designated ‘M’ in honour of founder Bruce McLaren, hence the confusion over the subsequent MP4 designation.

The MCL32, which is understood to be running in the orange livery of the late 60s and early 70s, is due to be unveiled on February 24 – the same day as Ferrari reveals its contender – at the McLaren Technology Centre.