McLaren M23

The McLaren M23 was a Formula 1 racing car, which was developed in 1973 at McLaren Racing. With 16 victories in World Championship races and two world championships was the M23, one of the most successful cars in Formula 1 history.


The M23 was the first Formula 1 racing car of McLaren, which was developed and designed exclusively by Gordon Coppuck. Coppuck deduced his design from the McLaren M16, the emergency vehicle by McLaren in the U.S. USAC series. The car had a narrow, forward tapered monocoque. The coolers were on the side parts. This design is already compatible with the applicable rules from 1974 for crumple zones, which manifested itself mainly by the high strength of the flanks. The suspensions were taken from McLaren M19C, the previous model. In the typology of the McLaren M23 followed in Formula 1 on the M19, as the M21 is a Formula 2 car was. When driving the proven V8 DFV engine from Cosworth served. The FG -400 transmission came from Hewland. Coppuck had moved, the main weight of the vehicle to the center, while the tank is mounted in the vicinity of the center of gravity.

Already the first tests was to realize that this type of the car were special aerodynamic properties. Factory rider Denis Hulme reported after the first kilometers traveled by a light steering and excellent handling characteristics.

History of development and racing history


McLaren had come with the production of the patrol car at the start of the season in default, so Denis Hulme and Peter Revson had to dispute the first two races of the season with the M19. Also for the Grand Prix of South Africa only one vehicle was finished, the got Hulme. Revson had to make do with the M19. This was also true for the South African Jody Scheckter, who also drove a M19. Hulme had with the M23 a perfect start, drove in qualifying the fastest time and was thus on the pole position. However, he was there only 1.5 tenths of a second faster than the M19 Scheckter, who went from third place on the grid. In the race, Hulme led the first four laps and was then overtaken calculated by Scheckter. Tyre damage then interrupted the running of the New Zealander. He lost two laps in the pits, but was at the end of the race in fifth place. At McLaren was the first use of the M23 more than satisfied.

From the Grand Prix of Spain also Revson drove the M23. At the Grand Prix of Sweden Hulme celebrated the first race win with the new car. However, he benefited from a slow puncture on the Lotus 72 of Ronnie Peterson, he was able to overtake just before the end of the race. In the duel between Tyrrell and Lotus to the team and driver Appreciation McLaren indeed could not intervene, but with the two victories of Peter Revson in the UK and Canada, and top rankings - among others reached the guest driver Jacky Ickx third place at the Grand Prix of Germany on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring - the team placed at the end of the year in third place in the Constructors' Championship.


The 1974 season brought changes to the team. The M23 remained the emergency vehicle and was first revised. The vehicles got new front wing and ran under the name M23B. The most important change was the change of the main sponsor. Basically it was not a radical change, because the contract with the previous main sponsor Yardley ran until the end of the year. Team Manager Phil Kerr, it was succeeded in the previous BRM donors, the tobacco company Philip Morris International to divert from traditional British team McLaren. Until the era of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard McLaren Formula 1 race cars were painted from now on in the colors of the cigarette brand Marlboro. Since McLaren possessed now has two main sponsors, were released in 1974 three M23 used. Then came Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus to McLaren and Denis Hulme denied his last single-seater season, Revson was to drive the Yardley -M23. The negotiations came to nothing, however, and the Americans changed at the last minute to Shadow Racing Cars. The third cockpit was given by Mike Hailwood. A year -M23 was sold before the start of the season at the South African Dave Charlton, who used to race cars in the South African Championship.

Hulme won in his farewell year the Grand Prix of Argentina and Fittipaldi won at the races in Brazil, Belgium and Canada. The decision in the World Cup was the last race in the United States. Fittipaldi handed a fourth place to the world title, which he won by three points on the Ferrari driver Clay Regazzoni. Also, the constructors' title went to McLaren. They were the first two world titles for the British team.


1975 were revised as M23 M23C already in its third race season as factory cars. Was the M23 in the previous two years, known as an easy car to drive, the changes resulted in 1975 in the opposite direction. For changes to the suspension, the weight distribution has been corrected. The focus wandered to the back and the car got a longer wheelbase. Both did the driving behavior of M23 not good. New to the team was the German Jochen Mass, who won the demolition race in Spain. The champion team was the resurgent Ferrari team a prominent opponent grown, especially the Austrian Niki Lauda drove a strong season. Although Fittipaldi won the race in Argentina and Great Britain, but the world champion Lauda and Ferrari he could not prevent.


Emerson Fittipaldi in 1975 had left by the end of the season the team to build their own racing team with his brother Wilson. For him, James Hunt joined the team. Coppuck was working with the successor model, the M26. For this car, the technician Alistair Caldwell had developed a six-speed gearbox to use the torque of the Cosworth engine better. At the beginning of the season it was so far away at McLaren by a completion of the new racing car that had to be used on the M23 again. The vehicles were designated M23D and were equipped with the new transmission. Lighter side pods reduced the total weight.

James Hunt and Jochen Mass disputed the entire season with the M23D. The season was dramatic. Niki Lauda had his serious accident at the Nurburgring. There were disqualifications and many collisions. James Hunt was charged with six wins this season and one point ahead of World Champion Lauda. In parallel competition of the constructors McLaren finished second behind Ferrari.


In 1977, the M23 in his fifth season as a works car, now as M23E. Hunt drove it the first four races of the year as well as the Grand Prix of Monaco, then finally the M26 ready for use. Jochen Mass was first at the Grand Prix of Great Britain the M26. The final podium and at the same time last championship points with a M23 Mass reached the second place in the Grand Prix of Sweden. Both Gilles Villeneuve and Bruno Giacomelli in 1977 gave its Formula 1 debut in a factory M23.

The American Board Lunger and Spaniard Emilio de Villota drove privately reported M23 with some world championship races, but failed to reach placements in the points.


In the Formula 1 World Championship, the M23 in 1978, the last time used. Last pilot was the young Nelson Piquet, who reached the BS Fabrications -M23 at the Grand Prix of Italy the ninth.

Hazards were these successful car but still some years in the Aurora AFX Formula 1 series, where Tony Trimmer 1978 on a M23 won the overall title.