McLaren Automotive, commonly referred to as McLaren, is a British automotive manufacturer of high-performance vehicles. The company was established as McLaren Cars in 1989 as a producer of road cars based on Formula One technology. It works closely with McLaren Racing, the successful Formula One constructor, and is a spinoff of McLaren Group. McLaren Racing Limited, trading as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, is a British Formula One team based in Woking, Surrey, England, United Kingdom. McLaren is best known as a Formula One constructor but has also competed and won in the Indianapolis 500 and Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am). The team is the second oldest active team (after Ferrari) and one of the most successful teams in Formula One, having won 180 races, 12 drivers’ championships and 8 constructors’ championships. Founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren, the team won its first Grand Prix at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix but their greatest initial success was in Can-Am, where they dominated from 1967 to 1971.
Further American triumph followed, with Indianapolis 500 wins in McLaren cars for Mark Donohue in 1972 and Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and 1976. After Bruce McLaren died in a testing accident in 1970, Teddy Mayer took over and led the team to their first Formula One constructors’ championship in 1974, with Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt winning the drivers’ championship in 1974 and 1976 respectively. 1974 also marked the start of a long standing sponsorship by Phillip Morris’ Marlboro cigarette brand. In 1981 McLaren merged with Ron Dennis’ Project Four Racing; Dennis took over as team principal and shortly after organised a buyout of the original McLaren shareholders to take full control of the team. This began the team’s most successful era: with Porsche and Honda engines, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna took between them seven drivers’ championships and McLaren six constructors’ championships.
The combination of Prost and Senna was particularly dominant—together they won all but one race in 1988—but later their rivalry soured and Prost left for Ferrari. Fellow English team Williams offered the most consistent challenge during this period, the two winning every constructors’ title between 1984 and 1994. However, by the mid-1990s Honda had withdrawn from Formula One, Senna had moved to Williams and the team went three seasons without a win. With Mercedes-Benz engines, West sponsorship and former Williams designer Adrian Newey, further championships came in 1998 and 1999 with driver Mika Häkkinen and during the 2000s the team were consistent front-runners, driver Lewis Hamilton taking their latest title in 2008. In 2009 Dennis retired as team principal of McLaren handing the former role to longtime McLaren employee Martin Whitmarsh.