Seven drivers take on the exclusive McLaren P1 GTR Driver Programme

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 23, 2015

Seven limited edition McLaren P1 GTR racecars blazed through the tracks of the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain for the first time. The seven owners fortunate to have purchased the P1 GTR took on the challenging circuit as part of McLaren’s P1 Driver Programme, with a dedicated pit crew waiting to service their exclusive track-only vehicle.

Under the P1 GTR Driver Programme, McLaren seeks to train the owners themselves in piloting what is described as the most exclusive and most powerful track-only model ever produced by the Formula 1 brand.

In the programme, drivers can get access, first of all, to specialized training aimed to make them proficient in piloting the McLaren P1 GTR in the racetrack. They also get to try out their cars safely using McLaren’s racing simulator before they get in the cockpit of the P1 GTR.

McLaren hopes that the drivers will have the mental and physical readiness to fully harness what its P1 GTR can do, and to bring the best out from the 1000PS (986 bhp) racing vehicle. Further raising the exclusivity of the programme is the custom-made experience for each of the seven drivers who got in.

The training is paced according to the capabilities and preferences of the McLaren P1 GTR owner, so each of the seven owners has a different experience. The programme is facilitated by a support team coming from the outfit that designed the P1 GTR, McLaren Special Operations.

MSO’s Executive Director Paul MacKenzie explained that the program is designed in recognition of the fact that no two drivers share similar attributes. As a result, his teams assigned to each driver make it a point to tailor a training routine that is designed to maximize each driver’s skill set.

This apparently has been a success, according to Chris Goodwin, who is McLaren Automotive’s Chief Test Driver. Goodwin led the coaching team that supported all of the seven McLaren P1 GTR drivers that participated in the programme in Spain.

He praised the system, noting that each driver achieved the same performance that they first displayed on the simulator when they were in the cockpit of their respective P1 GTRs.

The Chief Test Driver said that the success demonstrated how applicable the custom training routines were for each of the drivers, and that the owners were indeed actively engaged in the programme on their own terms and were not following a routine set of training principles.

This is apparently necessary, because the P1 GTR has excellent potential and capabilities meant exactly for the racetrack, according to Mackenzie. The Executive Director said that, when they designed the P1 GTR, McLaren’s design and engineering teams were not restricted to following race regulations or were not forced to think about the limitations of a road car.

The training and coaching were so effective that two drivers were able to keep to a benchmark laptime that was put in place by Brunno Senna. Senna is one of the driver mentors in the recent programme.

Goodwin also attributed the success of the training to the extensive background of the driver coaches involved in the effort. He revealed that the coaches have had experience driving a diverse range of racing cars, including single seater racers and sports cars.

An understanding of the data that was generated by the three-day programme was also crucial to coaching the drivers and leading them to constantly improve on their own personal records. Of course, the three-day programme also demonstrated clearly the capabilities of the powerful P1 GTR.

Goodwin said that the programme will travel away from Spain and will take the seven drivers to various circuits in the globe, each with different challenges.

Specifically, the Programme will test drive the owners and their P1 GTRs in the following racetracks: Sepang International Circuit (Malaysia), Circuit of the Americas (North America), Silverstone (UK), Autodromo Nazionale Monza (Italy), Red Bull Ring (Austria), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Bahrain International Circuit (Bahrain) and Yas Marina (Abu Dhabi).

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