Niki Lauda's 1985 McLaren MP4/2b by model car group takes the big prize

21 February 2022
Model Car Group McLaren TAG MP4/2B Marlboro McLaren International Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix 1985 - #1 Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda's 1985 McLaren MP4/2b by model car group takes the big prize Images

PRICE: £65.99 
REF NO: MCG 18607
SCALE: 1/18

McLaren's ground-breaking MP4 design made its first appearance during the 1981 Formula 1 Grand Prix season. What made it so outstanding is that it was the first car to feature a fully carbon fibre monocoque chassis.

The MP4 was the first car to be built following the merger of the McLaren team and Ron Dennis' Project 4 Formula 2 team - its designation was short for "Marlboro Project 4".

It didn't take long for the design to bring the team success, with John Watson winning the 1981 British Grand Prix, at Silverstone, in only the car's seventh race. The design would win a further five Grand Prix during the 1982 seasons (three for John Watson and two for Niki Lauda) before being replaced by the MP4/2 for the 1984 season.

The new car now had a TAG-Porsche power unit, replacing the iconic Ford Cosworth DFV that had served so many designs very well since its introduction in 1967. The new engine had been tried in the MP4/1 for the last few races of the 1983 season, so it was successful right out of the box, with the new MP4/2 winning its first race, the 1984 season-opener at Brazil's Interlagos circuit, in the hands of Alain Prost.

The MP4/2 quickly became all conquering, dominating the 1984 season with 12 wins out of the 16 races. Seven of these were taken by Prost and five by Lauda, whose better other-placed results over the year were enough to give him the title by the tiniest of margins (just half a point!).

For the 1985 season, the car had been redesignated as the MP4/2B. It was updated with cleaner aerodynamics and redesigned wings (to comply with new regulations that had banned the winglets on the rear wings of the cars that had been in use since 1983). Porsche refined its TAG engine with improved power (850 bhp in race trim and 960 bhp for qualifying), and fuel consumption. The suspension had to be redesigned too, after McLaren were forced to switch from Michelin to Goodyear tyres when the French company pulled out of Formula 1 at the end of 1984.

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Despite all these improvements, many other teams had now caught up with McLaren's technology, so the 1985 season was not quite so successful for the team's drivers.  Prost took five victories (and the first of his four World Championships), whilst Lauda onluy won on once occasion - the Dutch Grand Prix, held at Zandvoort. It was to be his last Grand Prix win, as he retired at the end of the season.

Niki Lauda passed away in 2019, aged 70, so this is a fitting tribute by Model Car Group, commemorating that last race win for the great Austrian driver. It was the triple World Champion's 25th Grand Prix victory.

Model Car Group has justifiably earnt a reputation for providing excellent quality replicas at very affordable prices, and this is another great example of the company's work. A combination of diecast with some plastic elements obviously helps keep the costs down, but it also affords the opportunity to incorporate a greater level of detail than if the entire car was metal.

Suspension arms and components are suitably intricate, and these connect to a set of beautifully recreated wheels, adorned with rubber tyres that have a very authentic feel and appearance.

The shape of the body is very accurately reproduced and those iconic Marlboro markings are crisply lined, with tampo-printed sponsor logos equally impressively applied. Of course, the old tobacco sponsor problem comes into play here, so there is a sheet of Marlboro logos taped under the plinth base, for application by the purchaser, and these will finish off the replica, of that final win for our hero, perfectly.