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McLaren P1: radical F1-inspired supercar revealed

The McLaren P1 has been designed to be "the best driver's car in the world on road and track", says the Formula One team turned supercar builder.

McLaren P1 front side

McLaren has unveiled its new road-going flagship ahead of its debut at the 2012 Paris motor show, the company’s first ever presence at such an event.

The McLaren P1 is described as a design study, though much of the concept’s styling is expected to remain intact for the production version that will be released in 2013.

McLaren is throwing its vast F1 engineering and aerodynamic experience and expertise at the P1, which as its name suggest is aiming for pole position among the world’s supercars.

“Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit,” said Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive’s managing director.

“It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. Our goal is to make the McLaren P1 the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.”

McLaren is not releasing more details about the P1 until its Paris reveal on Thursday 27th September.

An uprated version of the MP4-12C’s twin-turbo V8, rather than a V12 like the original McLaren F1, is widely tipped for the mid-engined P1, with an F1-style KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) capable of boosting power beyond 600kW and potentially past 700kW.

Acceleration of 0-100km/h in less than three seconds is anticipated.

The styling of the McLaren P1 should guarantee it doesn’t come in for the same criticism as the MP4-12C, which many labelled as overly conservative.

McLaren has no doubt honed the shape of the P1 in the same wind tunnel used for its F1 cars, and there are multiple aerodynamic touches.

There’s a roof-mounted airbox feeding air to the engine that nods not only to the F1 supercar of the 1990s – as does the P1’s overall silhouette – but also the McLaren Formula One cars.

The radical rear end features a dramatic diffuser with two large tunnels that will help suck the P1 to the bitumen. Above sits a large, high-mounted exhaust outlet that’s housed in a wide section of black bodywork with fancy LED bordering.

A front splitter and leading edge sill design hints at a flat underfloor, while the P1 is likely to feature a version of the carbon fibre monocoque used for the MP4-12C coupe and convertible.

The McLaren P1 will go on sale to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the company, which was founded by Kiwi racer Bruce McLaren in 1963.

“The McLaren P1 will be the result of 50 years of racing and road car heritage,” said Ron Dennis, McLaren Automotive’s executive chairman. “Twenty years ago we raised the supercar performance bar with the McLaren F1 and our goal with the McLaren P1 is to redefine it once again.”