Fearlessly Forward with McLaren at Silverstone
Engines roar, the tarmac burns, and the audience hoots and cheers with every turn taken and every lap finished. Driving up to the main gate of Silverstone, you are welcomed by the sound of Formula 1 – a sound so powerful, it serves as an immediate shot of adrenaline.
Supercars mingle with cars of all shapes and sizes in the parking lot, but it’s all speed when you cross the entry. Virtually every attendee’s wearing a different piece of merch to show off their allegiance to one of the many players at the Grand Prix, whether it’s a t-shirt or a baseball cap
Within seconds of entering the circuit, we’re greeted by a sea of Papaya Orange. It’s no surprise to see the energized crowds of McLaren’s Fans Like No Other at Silverstone, a venerated temple of speed and McLaren’s home turf. A quick 2-hour drive from their technology center in Woking, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is one of McLaren’s most important races of the year in Formula 1. Since their debut at Silverstone in 1973, McLaren has earned its place on the podium as the second most successful team to compete in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone – bested only by bitter rivals Ferrari.
McLaren has always pushed Fearlessly Forward in their pursuit of speed, pushing their cars and their drivers to untold heights of success. The spectacle of watching Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz zip past from one of the many Grandstands at Silverstone belies the sheer intensity and amount of work that goes into getting a Formula 1 car ready for action. Before the car is ready to hit the tarmac, the engine block is heated up to over 80 degrees Celsius to compensate for the tightness of the bearings and pistons. Things only get hotter from there, as the brake discs of the MCL34 can reach a temperature equal to that of molten lava. Imagine trying to scrape a few milliseconds off your laptop with what amounts to a volcano beneath your feet. Delivering high-end performance can bring the heat real fast, so whether you’re building a smartphone or a racing car, you need a reliable cooling system. Bringing the temperature of a car down quickly is essential, and one of the first things the pit crew jumps to when the driver leaves the car.
Even after a practice round, it’s virtually impossible to get through the throngs of media attention to catch up with Lando. Questions range from the feel of the circuit itself, to his thoughts on the lap, the car, and the climate. Whether it’s through Lando, his chief engineer, or one of the many other members of the McLaren crew, every single aspect of a race is thoroughly studied and continuously monitored. If you’ve ever beaten your friends at a game of go kart, you might think steering your car to victory takes little more than a wheel, a gas pedal, and a brake. In reality, F1 drivers have constant access to dozens of different toggles and buttons to help them optimize their performance. Being able to tailor every aspect of the driving experience to the driver’s needs, with some adjustments coming in at a mere fraction of a second, is of pivotal importance to the driver’s performance. It goes to show that great tools put you in the literal driver’s seat, and it sparked immediate comparisons with our own exacting commitment to user agency and customizability.
Standing in McLaren’s garage while the drivers were on the track gave us a very real and overwhelming taste of the action. While orders echo through the intercom, and Lando provides real-time updates on everything from drag to his pit lane speed, the pit crew is prepped and ready to jump in and change the driver’s tires the second he rolls into the garage. Two seconds, that’s all the time it takes for the McLaren crew to replace the tires. The mad pursuit of speed reaches a real boiling point in the pits. The last-minute optimizations and intolerance of mistakes, no matter how seemingly insignificant, highlight McLaren and OnePlus’ shared commitment to always keep pushing forward and Never Settle. Passion feels like too small a word to express the depths of this pursuit, the risks it incurs and the demands it poses. Whether you’re in pursuit of the fastest lap time or the highest performance benchmark, success is only achievable by those who put the race before themselves.
But, while the technical heart of McLaren is found in the car and the garage, the human heart of McLaren Racing is found in the stands. This is where hundreds of McLaren fans gather every time a driver gets behind the wheel. The mantra of “Fearlessly Forward” has commanded the love and respect from people across the UK, and indeed the world, since Bruce McLaren first raced in 1958. Speaking to an older fan seated on a park bench a ways from the track, he doesn’t need much encouragement to speak about his history with McLaren. Upon joining McLaren’s family of fans nearly 30 years ago, he has followed them across the globe, from Singapore to Monaco, and from Silverstone to Abu Dhabi. Although he bemoans the 2014 switch to V6 engines, he remains a stalwart follower of McLaren. Before the end of our conversation, he defiantly states his belief that a new age of dominance behind the wheel is just around the corner. McLaren’s fans are a driving force behind the team’s success, and with their support a return to greatness feels inevitable.
Speaking to fans of other racing teams, they would like to have you believe McLaren has long lost its ability to compete at the top level of the sport. When we confront the crew, the fans, and the drivers, with this bleak forecast, it’s laughed out of the room. They have passion and optimism to spare, and won’t leave a stone unturned in their pursuit of points, wins, and championships.
Bruce McLaren wrote one of the sport’s most memorable fairytales when he turned his dream into one of the most successful racing teams in history. Through sheer force of will and endless ingenuity, McLaren took their ambitions from a shack in New Zealand to McLaren’s modern technology center today, winning countless races along the way. After all, outrageous comebacks are a hallmark of McLaren’s rise to fame.
Moreover, McLaren showed real grit and determination to race hard, race fair, and push Fearlessly Forward. Their love for speed is what first drove McLaren and OnePlus together. That love for speed was in full force at British Grand Prix.