Team profiles: McLAREN

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 September, 2004, 12:00am

McLaren is one of the most potent names in F1, rivalling Ferrari in the pantheon of motorsport gods. They took their first world title with Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974, then 1976 witnessed the series of amazing battles between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, with McLaren's Hunt winning by just a point, while Lauda had a terrible crash.

In 1988, McLaren joined forces with Honda and had a remarkable season, with drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost winning 15 of the 16 races that season and Senna taking the title. Since 2000, McLaren have been outpaced by Ferrari and often by Williams too.

David Coulthard is a capable driver but one who has generally failed to set the grid alight despite constantly promising to do so. The arrival of Juan Pablo Montoya for 2005 could well mean the end of the Scot's career at McLaren, though a drive at Toyota could be just the tonic he needs. After Mika Hakkinen's retirement in 2001, Coulthard hoped to shine but instead got lumbered with one of McLaren's less successful engines, and has also been overshadowed by the rise of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

The young Finn, known as the Ice Man, is seen as one of the rising stars of F1, moving from Sauber in 2001 to Renault, then to McLaren in 2002. Raikkonen has driven superbly at times, although 2004 has not been his most memorable season and he has had to deal with a host of engine blow-ups. His strength and consistency should see him advance, despite this underwhelming season.