McLaren’s M23

Colin Chapman once again broke the established schemes, removed the radiator from the front, placing two radiators on the sides of the cockpit, thus leaving the front of the car free, in order to provide it with better wedge-shaped aerodynamics.

The new concept quickly proved its worth, achieving 5 victories that year, boosting Jochen Rindt at the top of the championship standings, with such an advantage that, despite his tragic death in the Italian GP training, nobody was able to reach him in the last 4 GP of the season, and he was proclaimed World Champion posthumously. Rindt was an on / off champion, since he only obtained dropouts or victories, joining the curious and exclusive club of being world champions, only scoring with victories, formed by Alberto Ascari (1952) and Jim Clark (1963 and 1965).

Perhaps the unfair bad reputation as a dangerous car, which as a result of Rindt’s fatal accident, suffered the Lotus 72, made no other team choose to copy its concept, and that Rindt’s tragic death was more his fault than the car’s . Rindt did not like the seat belt very much, which -by the way- was not compulsory until 1972, and he had the habit of wearing it without using the crotch straps, which was what caused, in the frontal crash suffered against the Barriers of the Parabolic of Monza, will slide forward, causing the closure of the belt, serious damage to the trachea and as a consequence, his death.

And now yes, let’s talk about the M23, it debuted in 1973, and it was the first F1 along with the Shadow DN1, which copied the concept of the Lotus 72, side radiators and wedge-shaped bodywork.

The M23 had the near-standard mechanical configuration of the time: Ford Cosworth DFV engine and Hewland gearbox. He was quickly competitive, taking pole position on his debut and 3 wins that year. Surely it was competitive so quickly because its designer Gordon Coppuck had already borrowed the concept of the Lotus 72, to thus design, in 1971, the successful McLaren M16 for the Indianapolis 500, which was the basis for the development of the M23.

Teddy Meyer hablando con James Hunt dentro de su M23 - SRC

Teddy Meyer talking with James Hunt on his M23

The record of the M23 is impressive. He gave McLaren his first two World Champion titles, Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976, earning 16 wins overall, which gave him (wrongly) the record for wins for an F1 model; record that last year snatched the Mercedes W07 with 19 victories. I say wrongly because for me, who held and continues to hold that record, is the Lotus 72, with 20 wins.

Cosmetics and lawyers

With M23 as the protagonist there are some interesting anecdotes, let me tell you a couple of them:

Peter Revson con su prometida, Marjorie Wallace, Miss Mundo - SRC

In 1973 the M23 debuted sponsored by the cosmetics company Yardley, with “Bear” Hulme and Peter Revson as pilots; Despite being a member of a multimillion-dollar family, Revson always ran without his support and opposition (his brother Doug had died in 1963 contesting an F3 career), forcing him to seek his own life.

The problem arose because the Revson family’s fortune came from owning the Revlon cosmetic company and, not surprisingly, the family was amused that one of its members advertised its great competitor. The rumor spread (I do not know if true), that he had been disinherited, unfortunately he did not have the opportunity to inherit or not inherit, he died in 1974 aboard his F1 Shadow, after having lived the life he liked, enjoying his passion.

Another story that has the M23 as its protagonist is, in the 1976 British GP, in the first corner of the race, a coupling between the two Ferrari of Lauda and Regazzoni, made a good montonera roll, in which the M23 of Hunt came out badly. The stewards decided to stop the race to remove the cars and start again, McLaren quickly lined up Hunt’s reserve M23 on the new grid, and predictably, Ferrari quickly protested that: you couldn’t change cars once started. the race. Race management decided to withdraw Hunt’s car, to which then-McLaren director Teddy Meyer objected and began an arduous discussion with the Race Director and Luca Montezemolo. Meyer, like the magnificent lawyer he was, took out the Sports Code, played dumb, asked, argued, refuted, argued, and they were like that for more than 45 minutes, until a McLaren mechanic approached Meyer, whispering something to the ear; At that time Meyer said to his interlocutors, “Messrs. they are right, we cannot run with the ticket, let’s not make the public wait any longer ”, it had all been a ploy to give their mechanics time to fix Hunt’s car, which he was able to run and win to the delight of his public and, I suppose for Teddy Meyer’s greatest delight.

Get the new McLaren M23 from SRC for free
Finally, I propose a small challenge to all readers:

What records in F1 history does the McLaren M23 hold? To the first to find out, we will reward you with the new McLaren M23 from SRC.

I hope you liked and entertained this little narration, greetings to all and see you soon. If you know any anecdote about M23, please share it with all of us.

11 replies to “McLaren’s M23

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  2. The Mc Laren M23 was driven by the highest number of F1 World Champion drivers (even if with different cars, Fittipaldi, Hunt, Scheckter and Piquet),
    and the one with the highest number of different drivers running in the same championship year (six in ’74 and ’77).

    • Hello E. Cortese.
      Of the two answers, the first one is almost correct, but we can not accept it as valid. The second one is not correct, in 1974 the M23 was piloted by 6 pilots: Fittipaldi, Hulme, Haiwood, Charlton, Hobbs and Mass, and in 1977 by 6 other pilots: Hunt, Mass, Villota, Lunger, Villeneuve and Giacomelli. But without knowing what the F1 with this record is, it is not the M23, the March 701 of 1970, it surpassed the M23 in different drivers in the same season with 7: Stewart, Sevon-Gavin, Amon, Siffert, Andretti, Peterson and Cevert .
      I encourage you to continue trying, you are very close to achieving it, but do not delay, I am afraid that many followers once read your proposal, will quickly deduce the correct answers.
      Luis de la Hoz.

  3. M23 Mclaren holds record for most Grand Prix starts , 80 with 16 Victorys

    • Hello, Shane.
      Sorry, the record is not the 80 GP stars the M23 (really I stars 83).
      And we ask not for a record in valid, but several records in current (specifically, 2 records).
      Luis de la Hoz

  4. 83 races from 1973 to 1978

    • Hello Francois.
      As I mention in the article, the 16 victories of the M23, officially were surpassed by the 19 wins of Mercedes W07, and for me the F1 with more victories in history is the Lotus 72 with 20, what happens is that Colin Chapman had the custom of changing the name of their F1 as far as a significant change, hence there would be Lotus 72-A, B, C, D, E and F, but there really were less differences between a 72-A and a 72-F, of which there was between an M23 of 1973 and an M23 of 1976, and I do not tell you the differences that there are in a current F1, between the first and last GP of a season.
      The 83 participations in GP of the M23, are nothing compared with the 149 of the Lotus 72.
      Luis de la Hoz


  6. The Mclaren M23 was the 1st formula 1 car to have a 6 speed gearbox, and the 1st to have a life support system , also the 1st car to be driven by 3 different world champions, Denny Hulme, Emerson Fittipaldi, and James Hunt.

    • Hello, Robert.
      Thank you very much for your answers to the competition.
      I’m sorry to tell you that they are not correct:
      On the life support system, it would not be a record, it would simply be the first F1 in something, the records entail being the one that has a amount or number higher to the rest.
      With the first F1 to use a 6 speed gearbox, we would be in the same previous case, it is not a record and the first F1 with 6 speed gearbox, was the Porsche 817 of W. Von Trips in the GP of Monaco of 1959.
      And the Ferrari 500 had already had the honor of having 3 World Champions to its wheel; A. Áscari, G. Farina and M. Hawthorn.
      I encourage you to continue investigating the current M23 records, they are simpler than it seems.

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