Marlboro McLaren are no more. After 23 years one of the most recognisable colour schemes of F1 disappeared in 1997 when West became title sponsors of McLaren and a totally new silver colour scheme, promoting both West and Mercedes, took to the track. 

   The McLaren MP4/12 was a new car for 1997, to be driven by Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. The testing was done in cars carrying the old McLaren Orange from the 1960s but when they were presented to the press the Anglo-German collaboration had a new colour scheme. Racing silver was back! albeit tempered with sponsorship and modern flashes, but the message was clear. It wasn’t long before McLaren were pushing their way back to the front of the grid and by the end of the decade had won two more drivers championships for McLaren and Mercedes.

    The car modelled is David Coulthards car from thr 1997 French GP. Towards the end of the race he was having a good battle with Ralf Schumacher and Jean Alesi when on the last lap Alesi punted Coulthard off robbing David of 5th place and giving Ralf Schumacher the last point.

  The MP4/12 was a totally new car for 1997. Designed under the watchful eye of chief designer Neil Oatley, Matthew Jeffreys was project leader for the chassis design, David North took care of the transmission, David Neilson the suspension and Mark Ingham the engine installation. The car was notably for its second brake pedal, selectable by the driver to act on one of the rear wheels to reduce understeer and wheelspin when leaving slow corners. It was called “brake steer” and once it came to light Ferrari objected immediately! The FIA duly banned the technology from F1.

   Mercedes-Benz supplied the engine marking the third year of the Anglo-German alliance. The 3 Ltr Mercedes-Benz FO110E (75°) and FO110F (72°) V10s were used through the season the later giving a reputed 700bhp from its 4 valve per cylinder and 4 ohc shafts. Mario Illien’s outfit Ilmor Engineering of Brixworth were responsible for engine design and development. Sadly it proved an unreliable unit and gave the team plenty of extra work, and disappointments.

  Initial performance was promising and Coulthard won the first race of the season in   Australia, McLaren's first win since losing Ayrton Senna at the end of 1993. He went on to win in Monza but lost a certain victory in Canada, and could have won at least seven races.  Häkkinen lost out to reliability too and the team lost a comfortable one-two at the Nürburgring when both cars retired with the same problem only a lap apart!

  The team finally claimed the reward of a one-two finish at the season finale in Spain. Michael Schumacher, leading the title race by one point, tried a ’94 style manoeuvre on Jacques Villeneuve, it failed and his Ferrari was put out of the race. Villeneuve, now with an ugly tyre mark on his side pod slowed to protect his car and let both the McLaren drivers through to a team one-two finish. Some people claimed that Patrick Head of Williams and Ron Dennis of McLaren had negotiated to engineer the finish.  Whatever the truth Häkkinen took his first win in F1 and McLaren finished with 63 points, a lowly fourth in the Constructors' Championship.

                                                                      1/24th scale kit.

                                                                           Built by Ian. 

     Revell’s F1 kits have been criticized by many modellers for their inaccuracies and lack of detail. This must be balanced against the comparative cost of the kits and the fact that for a long time Revell were the only manufacturer releasing F1 cars in plastic.

     They can be built into nice replicas straight from the box if you are prepared to put in the effort. Of course modelling is hobby and it is up to the builder how much research they want to do and how accurate they want to be. So at least with these kits you have a starting point. 

     Ian has learned how to plan his builds and can now manipulate these kits to produce nice looking cars. It does require fillers, sanding and patience, but when finished in Halfords car paints and all the decals are patiently applied well, you can see for yourself.