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McLaren MP4-17
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Special feature

How McLaren missteps scuppered three F1 cars and drove away its genius

The McLaren MP4-17 was only supposed to race in 2002 but, as STUART CODLING explains, its intended replacement was so bad that the car was pressed into service for 2003. The chaotic process of introducing its successor pushed a marginalised Adrian Newey closer towards the exit door, and also meant the 2004 car was compromised

The matrix. No, not the sci-fi movie franchise which played to diminishing returns around the turn of the century, but an abstruse management system which abided in similarly futuristic environs at the same time as Keanu Reeves et al were raging against the machines on the big screen.

McLaren’s star technical director Adrian Newey disliked the company’s brand new Foster & Partners-designed Technology Centre, feeling it cold and clinical – but he truly despised the so-called ‘matrix management system’ which had been imposed on his technical department. And, unlike the stars of The Matrix, Newey couldn’t warp the space-time continuum and engage in athletic feats of kung fu to escape this dystopia.

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