Last week I attended a smart dinner at McLaren’s technology centre at Woking for current and potential customers for the MP4. We were welcomed by Ron Dennis and Lewis and Jenson made a dramatic entrance (in the new MP4 Spider) at the end of Ron’s speech. The intention of the evening was clearly to link in customer’s minds the racing heritage of McLaren with their new road cars and to generate some of the racing glamour that Ferrari generates for its road cars for the MP4.

Racing heritage on show – I had the Corgi version as a child..

The smart but slightly sinister MTC

Ron in his speech pointedly referred to the cost of putting an F1 car on the grid – some £3m per race. That without even including the “huge amounts” he has to pay the drivers whom he concluded “were lucky he allowed them to drive his cars”. In the following Q and A session Lewis (to uncomfortable laughter) acknowledged that being a success in F1 was a team effort but that the drivers made a significant contribution to the development of a successful car – and if Ron wanted to get himself a “cheaper driver” he was welcome to do so.

When asked about his contractual intentions Lewis tellingly replied he had  “never been in this position before”. The position of having another good offer on the table? He refused to be drawn. I suspect he will soon be off – to add to the racing heritage of Ferrari?

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Lewis’ empty preparation bay at the McLaren Technology Centre – a sign of things to come?

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