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David Coulthard’s Best Season: MiniChamps 2001 McLaren Mercedes MP4-16

The F1 that we featured yesterday was the road-going McLaren. Today, we will feature the McLaren that competed in the actual F1 races. The McLaren Mercedes MP4-16 was the company’s entry in the 2001 FIA Formula One World Championship that was driven by the tandem of Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard in what would be their sixth and final season together as McLaren teammates.

For the 2001 season, West, Mobil 1, Mercedes-Benz, Hugo Boss, Sun Microsystems, Computer Associates, Warsteiner, Schüco and Loctite renewed their sponsorship of Team McLaren. The team also got two new sponsors, SAP and Siemens Mobile in place of the discontinued sponsorship from Fujitsu. The 2000 race car livery was retained with subtle changes.

After being narrowly surpassed by Ferrari for the 2000 F1 World Championship and Constructors’ Championship titles, McLaren wanted to get back on top in 2001. However, the season proved to be frustrating in more ways than one.

The McLaren’s chassis comprised of a carbon fiber monocoque with double wishbone suspension on all four corners equipped with inboard torsion bars and damper systems that were pushrod and bell crank-activated. The chassis was good but it was not developed enough to keep pace with Ferrari or Williams and it was suffered from niggling aerodynamic problems.

The Ilmor-built naturally-aspirated Mercedes-Benz FO110K 3.0-liter 72° V10 engine loved to rev up to 19,500 rpm but it proved to be less powerful than the BMW V10s in the Williams and less reliable than Ferrari’s. Despite the superior grip of the Bridgestone Potenza race tires, the McLaren team failed to maximize the use of electronic driver aids that returned to F1 that season.

Adding to the team’s problem was the seemingly bad luck and loss of form at many races of double world champion Häkkinen, who had his least successful season since 1997. While leading in the Spanish Grand Prix, his McLaren Mercedes suffered a clutch problem that made it difficult to shift the 7-speed longitudinal semi-automatic sequential transmission that led to an engine failure in the last lap. And despite winning two Grand Prix races in 2001, Häkkinen elected to retire at the end of the season.

On the other hand, David Coulthard produced the best season of his career in 2001, winning two races early on and mounting a championship challenge to Michael Schumacher. However, McLaren lost this early parity with Ferrari with Häkkinen’s poor performance but David was able to cling to a second place finish in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello. Because of Coulthard’s efforts, Team McLaren clinched second place in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of the Williams team.

Our special-edition 1:18 die-cast scale model of David Coulthard’s 2001 McLaren Mercedes MP4-16 underwent detailing at Paul’s Model Art under commission from MiniChamps. We guess that the model car was created to commemorate the gallant effort of Coulthard against the mighty Ferrari team despite the many challenges faced by Team McLaren.

We find this McLaren Mercedes race car’s metaphor quite timely for the challenges we all are facing during this COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recovery that we will all undergo after the quarantine has been lifted. It doesn’t matter if we finish 1st, 2nd or even last in a race. The important thing is that we all get to the finish line and then be happy for the honor of participating in the race and giving our best despite any odds.

To review the scale model super cars that we have previously posted here in the Power Wheels website, please click “The Rack” button on the header bar near the top right of your screen (if you’re using a PC, laptop or tablet), or type “The Rack” on the Search bar if you’re using a mobile phone.

If you loved our silver McLaren yesterday and this silver-and-black McLaren Mercedes today, you’ll love the silver Mercedes-Benz we have for you tomorrow. Cheers!