The McLaren P1’s fiery ex­haust


GGOOD PHOTO, ISN’T IT? DICKIE MEADEN, WHO’D some­how found space in his diary to fly out to Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit in Abu Dhabi and con­duct evo’s first drive of the mighty McLaren P1, may have been shift­ing up a gear, but it’s more likely that a fleet­ing lift of the throt­tle to bal­ance the chassis mid-slide was the im­pe­tus for a mo­ment of rich-run­ning. And sud­denly you’re side­ways in a `8.4 crore blow­torch.

But maybe Meaden did nei­ther. Trawl through on­line P1 footage and you’ll no­tice that when it’s not form­ing clouds or fir­ing hot glob­ules of Pirelli Trofeo R at track­ing cars, it’s spit­ting flames. In one ex­tra­or­di­nary clip at the end of the video that ac­com­pa­nies this photo, it’s as if some­one has lit a fire­work, the ex­haust eject­ing an un­in­ter­rupted stream of fire as the car bolts flat-out down the length of an en­tire straight. Drive it as you should, then, and the McLaren P1 spends more of its time ‘lit’ than not.

Un­bolt the clamshell at the back of the car­bon body and you’ll see why. The ti­ta­nium mouth of the ex­haust, gap­ing and central, is within touch­ing dis­tance of a 3799cc V8 flanked by tur­bos oper­at­ing at 980C and 1.4bar; the tub­ing ex­its each of the en­gine’s cylin­der heads sep­a­rately be­fore merg­ing and mak­ing ar­row-straight for the open-worked rear of the car. The flame is the com­bined re­sult of the enor­mous tem­per­a­tures gen­er­ated in the pur­suit of the com­bus­tion en­gine’s 727bhp and this trun­cated res­pi­ra­tory tract. Were the ex­haust longer, the gases would have cooled fur­ther be­fore entering the warm air of the Per­sian Gulf and in­stead ox­i­dised with a yel­low flame. On bal­ance, sky blue is prob­a­bly more in keep­ing with the McLaren P1’s su­per-high-tech vibe.

There is, of course, more to the P1’s pipe than histri­on­ics. It’s built in the style of a For­mula 1 ex­haust, and while that might not mean that McLaren will sub­tly lengthen it to give you a tad more torque on a track­day at Cad­well Park, it is made from In­conel, a nickel-chromium-molyb­de­num su­per­al­loy that’s al­most in­de­struc­tible. Fur­ther­more, the exit is so broad that McLaren puts it to good use, match­ing it to the an­gle of the rear of car and so cre­at­ing an area of low pres­sure. When you’ve told the press that your new hy­per­car will de­velop 600kg of down­force at 257kmph, every lit­tle helps.

And yet de­spite all this, the P1’s ex­haust was ac­tu­ally blinged down. The ini­tial con­cept re­vealed at the Paris mo­tor show in 2013 used gold-leaf heat shield­ing (McLaren al­legedly or­dered too many rolls from NASA for the F1 road cars), but this was ditched for the pro­duc­tion ver­sion. We’re sure it’s noth­ing MSO couldn’t re­in­state – for a fee, nat­u­rally.

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