Known as the car that brought McLaren to championship winning ways in 1998, the McLaren MP4/13 also was the car to deliver Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen his first of two consecutive Drivers’ Championships. Like the previous car in this series, the Red Bull RB8 from 2012, this was designed by F1 design guru Adrian Newey, the first design that he had full influence over, despite moving to the team from Williams in 1997.
Thanks to Newey’s brilliant adaptation of the 1998 rule and tyre changes, the car instantly proved to be the one to beat as Hakkinen and teammate David Coulthard lapped every other car and finished with a perfect 1-2 finish at the first round in Australia, albeit in controversial circumstances when it appeared that Coulthard purposely allowed Hakkinen through into the lead and take the win.
Mika Hakkinen, Monaco 1998.
Thanks to a powerful 3 litre Mercedes-Benz V10 and Newey’s fantastic design, Hakkinen would take the win at the second round in Brazil and go on to win on six more occasions, while Coulthard would take top honours at that year’s San Marino Grand Prix, adding to his tally of eight podiums in the season. Ferrari and rival Michael Schumacher regained the form as the season progressed and was able to challenge McLaren on the technical layouts, while McLaren held the advantage on less aerodynamic layouts. The MP4/13 was known for slight problems in reliability, and Coulthard believed that the car was prone to understeer in slow corners due to Newey’s focus on aerodynamic grip rather than mechanical grip in the car’s design.
The eventual championship battle between Hakkinen and Schumacher would be settled in the finale in Japan, but Hakkinen would easily come home to win as Schumacher stalled on the grid and later retired from a blown tyre. This was McLaren’s first Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since Ayrton Senna’s final championship victory in 1991, and was deemed the most successful season for McLaren since the 1989 season. Hakkinen would once again go on to take theDrivers championship in 1999, while continued victories would build the basis for McLaren’s frontrunning success in the late 90’s and early 00’s V10 era.
The MP4/13 set the fastest speed of all the 1998 cars when the speed trap on the old Hockenheim circuit clocked it at 219 MPH. (353 KM/h.) The car is also known to be that car that set the world record on the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb when German Nick Heidfeld took the MP4/13 up the hill in a staggering 41.6 seconds in the 1999 edition of the event, and thanks to F1 cars now being banned from being used in the time attack event, this record looks to also be set to stay for some time longer. The MP4/13 is also known to be one of the drivable classic cars in the Codemasters video games F1 2017 and F1 2018 respectively.