Formula One, more than most sports, is all about evolution. It’s a technological arms race where teams constantly tweak and update their cars in the hope of gaining the slightest edge. Progress comes in small steps within exceedingly strict rules. The future reveals itself slowly. That’s what makes the McLaren MP4-X so striking. McLaren’s Formula One concept, unveiled today, cares little for evolution and leaps right into tomorrow.
“We wanted to peer into the future and imagine the art of the possible,” says John Allert, group brand director for the McLaren Technology Group. He’s talking about a future in which carbon dioxide emissions are an unfortunate memory, tracks are electrified, electrodes turn air into plasma, and drivers use their brains, not their hands, to control cars. It’s fully bonkers, fully awesome, and even more outlandish than the #ferrariF1concept that Maranello showed off earlier this year.
The MP4-X is the work of McLaren Applied Technologies, the division that applies McLaren’s F1 R&D to other fields, from making toothpaste to treating ALS. The team considered the project an “open brief,” freed from silly constraints like cost, F1 regulations, and any ability to actually produce the proposed technologies. Still, McLaren insists “all the technology that’s been applied to the MP4-X is real, even if it’s in the earliest stages of conception.”