McLaren M28

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McLaren M28
John Watson's M28 now housed at the Donington Grand Prix Collection.
CategoryFormula One
Designer(s)Gordon Coppuck
PredecessorMcLaren M26
SuccessorMcLaren M29
Technical specifications
ChassisAluminium monocoque
EngineFord-Cosworth DFV, 2993cc V8, naturally aspirated, mid-engined, longitudinally mounted
TransmissionMcLaren / Hewland FGA 400/6 6-speed manual
Competition history
Notable entrantsMarlboro Team McLaren
Notable drivers7. United Kingdom John Watson
8. France Patrick Tambay
Debut1979 Argentine Grand Prix

The McLaren M28 is a Formula One racing car built and run by McLaren in the 1979 Formula One World Championship. Powered by a naturally-aspirated Ford Cosworth 3-litre engine, the M28 was designed and wind tunnel tested during the latter half of 1978, at around the same time as Ronnie Peterson was mooted to join the team for the following season.[1] The car was noticeably larger than contemporary designs and was much bulkier looking. Three chassis were built. The bulky design had a sharp impact on top speed, and the car was one of the slowest through speed traps. The car first appeared on track in October 1978.[2]

During initial testing, the M28 was soon found to have problems with poor grip as its ground effect design proved not particularly effective.[1] Lead driver John Watson has described the car as "a disaster."[3] Patrick Tambay was even less enthused by the M28, labelling it "a shitbox."[4] The car suffered from a lack of torsional rigidity and a poor understanding of the ground effect aerodynamics required to be competitive against the new generation of F1 cars. McLaren boss Teddy Mayer was shocked at the car's lack of performance, stating that designer Gordon Coppuck had dropped the ball.[5] The M28 was completely redesigned, but there was no improvement in performance. Efforts to resolve the car's problems had made the M28 overweight and slow.[1] However, it was still the preferred chassis over its predecessor, the McLaren M26, and was used during the first half of the 1979 season until a better design could be introduced. As their rivals introduced better cars through the season McLaren rapidly slipped out of the running for the championship.[1] However, it was driven to third in the opening race of the season, the 1979 Argentine Grand Prix, by Watson, who also took sixth in Belgium and fourth at Monaco. Its second driver was Patrick Tambay.

In addition to the McLaren team's customary red and white Marlboro sponsorship livery, the M28 also raced in the colours of German beer company Löwenbräu at the 1979 United States Grand Prix West.[6]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position) (results in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Points WCC
1979 Marlboro Team McLaren Ford Cosworth DFV G ARG BRA RSA USW ESP BEL MON FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN USA 15* 7th
John Watson 3 8 Ret Ret Ret 6 4 11
Patrick Tambay Ret 10 Ret 13 DNQ 10 7

* 7 points scored using the McLaren M29.


  1. ^ a b c d Watson, John (December 1999). "The Worst Car I Ever Drove: Blunder Bus". Motor Sport. Vol. 75 no. 12. pp. 50–51. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  2. ^ AP Archive (24 July 2015). "SYND 17 10 78 PREVIEW OF NEW FORMULA ONE MCLAREN". Retrieved 23 November 2018 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Fearnley, Paul (19 April 2018). "John Watson and the art of the pass". Motor Sport Online. Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Patrick Tambay interview - Motor Sport Magazine Archive". 6 January 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Official Website of the McLaren Formula 1 Team". Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  6. ^ Diepraam, Mattijs (May 1998). "McLaren's Löwenbräu connection". 8W. Retrieved 21 April 2018.