Button and Hamilton give seal of approval
Anna Healy Fenton
McLaren drivers and Formula One world champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton test drove the new car in Britain earlier this year. They provided valuable input on some of the Formula One inspired features, such as launch control, the Brake-Steer system and the electronic stability control programmes.
Button, the 2009 world champion, now in his second season at McLaren, said: 'The car's dynamic capability is fantastic both at high and low speeds. Within just a few seconds, I felt really comfortable with the car - and after only a couple of laps. I was able to begin to push it hard through the corners. But even though I was pushing, I was amazed by the car's great stability at high speeds. It's very quick in a straight line too. In fact, the biggest problem with driving the car on a circuit is that sometimes you forget it's a road car.'
Teammate and 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton had some arguments with Ferraris on the race track this year, but he was equally enthusiastic: 'The 12C is a real driver's car; it delivered on all my expectations. The visibility is great from the driver's seat. You really appreciate that in tight corners. I loved the McLaren F1 when I drove it and, like that car, the huge front windscreen of the 12C allows you to take in all the information needed for perfect lines through apex turns.' Hamilton also pointed out that the bloodlines linking McLaren Automotive to the grand prix team run deep. 'It was clear when meeting the test team that they share the same competitive focus as our race team. We're obsessed with winning and we'll do all we can to make sure that happens. If the 12C team say they are aiming to make the best performance car on the market, then I'm convinced that is what they will do.'
Before the first production car was built, 50 engineers put over 40 development cars through exhaustive testing. These included extreme conditions ranging from minus 50 degrees Celsius in the Arctic to 50 degrees in the desert.