Ranking the 15 Worst McLaren F1 Cars Of All Time

In order to realize the ranking, we looked at the results obtained by the McLaren F1 team throughout history. We selected and ranked the McLaren cars that obtained the worst results in the F1 World Constructor’s Championship. So let’s start.

N°15 – McLaren MP4-29

The first McLaren car of the hybrid era and also the last powered by a Mercedes engine. This car was beautiful but average in performance. It was driven by Jenson Button & Kevin Magnussen and they finished respectively 8th & 11th giving McLaren the 5th position by the end of the season.

N°14 – McLaren MP4-28

Beautiful, the MP4-28 resulted in the worst McLaren performance in 33 years during the 2013 season. The car, which looked impressive during the winter testing sessions was full of problems mainly poor driving quality and inherent under-steer. The car was so bad that McLaren was stuck in the midfield and unable to score a podium for the first time since 1980. They even considered bringing back the MP4-27 to replace it mid-season. Mc Laren finished 5th in 2013.

N°13 – McLaren MP4-31

This car was used by McLaren during the 2016 season. It is the second McLaren car powered by a Honda engine. The car was so full of problems that the drivers could not finish their races 9 times that season. McLaren finished 6th that year.

N°12 – MacLaren MP4-19

Meet the infamous MP4-19. The car used by McLaren during the 2004 season was designed to be really tight in order to improve its aerodynamics. It was indeed so tight that it made driving painful for its drivers. The components were so close together that the car was subject to a lot of failures by overheating.

During the course of the season, both drivers abandoned 12 times due to reliability issues. It was so bad that McLaren launched the MP4-19B mid-season to try to mitigate the problems. They finished at a not so honourable 5th position that year.

N°11 – McLaren MCL 33

First things first, this car is orange… Previous cars on the list had the decency to at least be somewhat pretty. The great Fernando Alonso described the car in these terms: “this car misses performance, grip, speed and pace”. It is the car that allegedly made him retire and made McLaren finish 6th during the 2018 season.

N°10 – McLaren MP4/1

Meet the MP4/1. The first car using carbon fibre in the history of F1. Despite the technological improvements, McLaren only won a race that year and finished 6th overall. This car had some serious reliability issues. The drivers finished their races only half the time during the 1981 season.

N°9 – McLaren MP4/1C

Pretty much like number 10 above, this car was revolutionary for its time and one of the first to ever use carbon fibre. Drove by legend Nicky Lauda, it had some serious reliability issues making it difficult to withstand the full length of a race. Two McLaren teams raced that year, one finished 5th while the other finished 18th.

N°8 – McLaren M28

Used during the 1979 season, the cars bulky design made it the slowest of the grid that season. The car also had a poor grip and really poor aerodynamics compared to its competition. Lead driver John Watson described it “as a disaster” while Patrick Tambay called it “a shitbox”. McLaren’s then-boss Ted Meyer was really shocked at the lack of performance stating that his designers have “dropped the ball”. The car was redesigned midseason. McLaren finished 7th that year.

N°7 – McLaren M26 1978

Designed to replace the ageing M23 during the 1978 season, the car was so bad that McLaren decided to keep using its M23 for the remainder of the 1978 season. The car was already outdated when it came out and has serious reliability issues. James Hunt finished only 6 of the 16 races that season. McLaren ended up at the 8th place overall.

N°6 – McLaren M4B

The second car ever made by McLaren and drove by Bruce McLaren himself. Only one model has been made. The car’s engine, a BRM V8, was outdated upon its release. The rest of the grid was using the new Cosworth engine which was more advanced. The car was only used on a couple of races during the 1967 season after which it caught fire. McLaren finished the season with the McLaren M5A.

N°5- McLaren M5A

The third car ever made by McLaren and the first car equipped with the new BRM type 101 V12 engine. One of its buyers, Jo Bonnier, found the car so unreliable that he chose to put it on an art gallery instead of driving it. Bruce McLaren finished only one race with this car during the 1967 season. McLaren overall finished 8th that year with the M4B and M5A.

N°4- McLaren M2B

Meet the first-ever F1 car made by McLaren. Probably one the best design of the 1966 F1 season. The car was full of technical problems as you would expect from a first F1 car. Robin Herd, McLaren team’s technical director and chief designer, declared at the time: “our emphasis tended to be more on the elegance of the chassis structure rather than on the design of a really quick racing car” and that, “we … tended to go towards technical ingenuity and bullshit rather than race-winning engineering”. McLaren finished 9th with this beauty during his first racing season.

N°3 – McLaren M29

Used by McLaren during the 1980 season the car was probably the most forgettable McLaren car ever made. Rigged with suspension problems it only allowed McLaren to finish 9th that season. This car was also droved by the infamous Andre de Cesaris, nicknamed Andre de Crasheris: the pilot with the most crashes in F1 history. Did the car make Andre crash? Or was Andre just a bad driver?

N°2 – McLaren MCL32

The MCL32 was the McLaren car used for the 2015 season and the last car fitted with a Honda engine. This car ended de facto the partnership between Honda and McLaren. Since the beginning of the season, the great Fernando Alonso was highly critical of the engine stating that it lacked power and reliability.

The engine was so unreliable that during testing McLaren only completed 425 laps. Mercedes, on the other hand, completed over 1000 laps during the same period. The car did not finish races 14 times during that season, going back to levels not seen since the 80s. McLaren finished 9th that year with only 30 points.

N°1 – McLaren MP4-30

And our winner is the McLaren MP4-30. According to us, the worst McLaren ever made. This car was the first McLaren powered by a Honda engine. At the end of the 2015 season, the car only scored a mere 27 points and McLaren finished 9th overall making 2015 season the worst McLaren season since 1980.

The car was full of problems, mainly the engine. An analysis made afterwards pointed out that Honda underestimated the technology involved in F1 engines and made an engine with critical design flaws. But that was not all, McLaren had also serious gearbox reliability issues compounding the problems already present with the engine.

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