McLaren P1: The Widowmaker! | Series 21 | BBC

McLaren P1: The Widowmaker! | Series 21 | BBC


Clarkson takes the stunning hybrid hypercar McLaren P1 out for a blindingly fast lap around Spa. Clip taken from series 21, episode 2.Click here for more exclusive series 21 videos: Subscribe for more awesome videos: YouTube channel: website: Facebook: Twitter:

And that's because,
like the Alfa we saw earlier, this car was designed
to be as fat as Iggy Pop. Inside, there's no glove box
and no carpets. The glass is just 3.5 millimetres thick, 1.5 millimetres thinner
than the glass in normal cars, except in the back windows…
where there's no glass at all. No lacquer is added to carbon-fibre trim
to save 1.5kg. The whole chassis
weighs less than James May. The trimmings are titanium and the body
is made from just five panels, which means less glue and fewer bolts
are needed to hold it all together. All of this means that,
despite the bank of batteries and the fact it has two engines, this car weighs less
than a Vauxhall Astra. That, of course, makes it economical. And fast. Really fast. Mind-blowingly fast. Oh, my God! The speed, in fact, is the main reason
I brought this car to Belgium, because Belgium is home to this place… Spa, the longest, wildest racetrack
on the F1 calendar. How can they make something go this fast? Okay, let me just slow it down
while I explain what's going on here. The electric motor and the big
V8 generator are working together, so that I have at my disposal
903 brake horsepower. Obviously, I've driven a Bugatti Veyron
that has more than that… but a Bugatti Veyron… it has four-wheel drive and it weighs
more than most mountains. This is rear-wheel drive
and the only significant weight comes from the air passing over the body. All right, Eau Rouge. Flat in a Formula 1 car. Not flat in this. Oh, they should have called
this the Widow-maker! The throttle is a hyperspace button. Step on it… and you're gone. And yet, somehow,
even in this appalling weather, it got round all of the corners
without crashing once. So, how? Well, that's partly because
it's made of stuff from the future. And partly because it's clever. It adapts. It moves around
to suit its environment. As the speed climbs, the rear wing rises
to generate more downforce, but as you go past 156 miles an hour,
it starts to go back down a little bit, otherwise the weight
of the air passing over it would be so enormous
it would break the suspension. Then you have the exhaust,
which works with the rear diffuser to generate an area of low pressure
into which the back of the car is sucked. The wheels are made
from military-grade aluminium. The brake discs from a material
that's only ever been used in the Arianespace programme. And they're coated
with something called silicon carbide. Apparently it's the hardest
substance known to man. Apart from dried Weetabix, obviously. And then, the whole thing
sits on four tyres that were designed and made by Pirelli. All of this means you really have
the confidence to open it up. This thing goes
from nought to 160 miles an hour faster than a Golf goes from nought to 60. 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180, 190… Bloody hellfire! And as you hurtle round in a puddle
of your own faeces, girning like an infant, the car is working
on ways of going even faster. Let me give you an example. The electric motor
is used to fill in the little gaps when the petrol engine
isn't working at its best, like, for example, during gear changes or while the massive turbos
are spooling up. And what I find hysterical about that
is that McLaren has taken this hybrid technology, which is designed to reduce the impact
of the internal combustion engine and is using it to increase the impact. That's like weaponising a wind farm. Or buying the Rainbow Warrior
and turning it into an oil tanker. For years, cars have all been basically
the same, but this really isn't. It's a game-changer, A genuinely
new chapter in the history of motoring. In a town, it's as eco friendly
as a health-food shop. On a motorway, it's comfortable and produces no more carbon dioxide
than a family saloon. And on a track,
it can rip a hole through time. And it's all been achieved using something
that's been around for centuries, brilliant British engineering. You could argue that it doesn't have
the passion or the flair of a Ferrari and I'd probably agree with you. But look at it this way. It was passion and flair
that built the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and it was British engineering that built the plumb-dead-straight
Westminster Abbey.

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