McLaren MP4-X concept shows innovation won't die in F1's future [w/video]

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Despite things like turbocharging and kinetic-energy recovery, today's Formula One cars look more or less like the ones that lapped the world's race tracks 20 years ago. Sure, they're much more aero intensive, but the basic look is the same. McLaren, which probably had some serious free time this season considering its misfortunes, has imagined a futuristic F1 car that adopts many innovative and somewhat controversial additions.

It's called the McLaren MP4-X, and the most obvious change is the closed cockpit. The death of Jules Bianchi, the accidents involving Maria De Villota and Felipe Massa, and even the death of Ayrton Senna could have all potentially been avoided by adopting a strong closed-cockpit design, like the one advocated here by McLaren. It's also worth pointing out that this design is a boon for aerodynamics. Inside that cockpit, drivers would enjoy an augmented reality display system, sort of like that used by F-35 Lightning II fighter pilots. There'd also be an independent head-up display that McLaren claims could be used to transmit info about race position and flag status. So basically, the kind of data you'd get playing Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo.

Speaking of safety, the MP4-X's entire chassis, beyond the closed roof, would be far safer thanks to the use of "negative-stiffness material structures." Essentially, these materials can soak up the force of an impact and then bounce, for lack of a better term, back into shape. And if you're thinking like we are, this sounds like McLaren wants 900-horsepower bumper cars.

Of course, 900 hp is speculation on our end. McLaren is deliberately vague on the powertrain of this concept. Advanced hybrid powertrains aren't surprising, although the team's mention of inductive, wireless charging on tracks sounds like the stuff of Formula E's dreams.

In a move that McLaren says "tears up the rulebook," the MP4-X would see a return of ground effects. The underbody would feature enormous venturi tunnels to suck the car to the track. Alongside active aerodynamics that tweak the its shape for turns and straights, this concept McLaren would be both more slippery and offer more downforce than today's cars.

There's a lot more on the MP4-X concept than we can talk about here, so head over to McLaren Honda's official website for all the nitty gritty details on this car's advanced systems, including solar cells, advanced tire sensors, and even virtual logos. It all sounds very, very cool. Check out the attached video that shows the MP4-X in (virtual) action.
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Introducing the McLaren MP4-X

McLaren's conceptual vision for the future of motorsport technology.

Modelling the future is something we do every day at McLaren.

Our Formula 1 race strategists think many laps ahead when planning a grand prix pit stop, our automotive engineers build high-performance road cars for the next generation of driver; and our technologists and designers in McLaren Applied Technologies devise ways to improve healthcare, transport and many other areas of our lives.

At McLaren, we always want to take things further.

"With the futuristic McLaren MP4-X concept racecar, we wanted to peer into the future and imagine the art of the possible," said John Allert, Group Brand Director, McLaren Technology Group.

"We have combined a number of F1's key ingredients – speed, excitement and performance, with the sport's emerging narratives - such as enclosed cockpits to enhance driver safety, and hybrid power technologies."

"Formula 1 is the ultimate gladiatorial sport, and the future we envisage will be a high tech, high performance showcase that excites fans like no other sport."

It looks visually striking, but it is beneath the skin where the changes are most apparent.

MP4-X is designed to harness alternative power sources; the chassis changes shape to adapt to different aerodynamic demands; and it can communicate in the event of a failure or a problem.

This is therefore McLaren Marketing's unique conceptual take on motor racing's future. Discover the MP4-X in all its glory in our interactive carousel, with exclusive insights into the future supplied by the technologists and designers at McLaren Applied Technologies.

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