Twenty-three years after the #59 McLaren F1 GTR crossed the finish line in first place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car is back at the track. And McLaren put a legendary driver behind the wheel.
Mika Häkkinen, former McLaren driver and 1998 and 1999 Formula 1 World Champion, climbed behind the wheel of the prestigious racer at Laguna Seca. The British supercar maker documented the experience in a new video, which shows Häkkinen handling the F1 GTR like the pro he is.
The race car is the pinnacle of late 20th century road racing with a 592-horsepower 6.1-liter V-12 race engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. No sequential gearbox here; this is manual labor at the highest of limits. The onboard camera shows the action first-hand and also captures the race car’s lovely soundtrack.
In 2015, McLaren celebrated the 20th anniversary of the car’s win. The race saw five lightly modified F1s take to the starting grid, and after the day-long endurance race, the F1 was the overall winner. The reliability of the BMW-sourced V-12 engine prevailed over faster prototype cars. The five racers took to the track once again three years ago ahead of that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans to honor the achievement.
Back to present day, Häkkinen stepped out of the F1 GTR after his hot laps around Laguna Seca with an ear-to-ear grin on his face. When asked how it felt, he simply replied, “I felt like a Le Mans winner.”