Well, that didn’t happen, partly because I intentionally dragged my feet thinking that the mere story of the car to that date would only be the preamble to what might follow. The car’s creator Gordon Murray was great fun to work with, and he was very supportive when it came to my arguments in favour of delay. I think that McLaren boss Ron Dennis really wanted something to glorify his company and its brand image, purely as a sales tool. With my historical outlook – for which read determinedly objective and completely non-commercial – I didn’t care a fig about potentially selling any of the cars – what I really wanted to record and report was the reality of what those cars became, and how they might serve their end users…
Ron’s contemporary business partner, the late (and much missed) Creighton Brown, was another supporter of my point of view. What’s the point of publishing a puff piece before the darned cars have achieved anything worth a damn? I saw no merit in sweating blood to produce such a thing. As it was book designer Rick Ward – a completely loony but intensely creative pal of Gordon’s – and I both sweated plenty of blood immediately before the F1’s launch to produce the official sales brochure for the F1 – which itself (I am happy to recall) became something of an industry standard-setter.
Where delaying the book itself was concerned, I think that – just for once – our judgement was pretty much spot on, and by 1999 we could tell the story not just of a magnificent motor car’s concept, design, development and introduction, but also of its subsequent career, its various successive versions and also – not least – of the extraordinarily successful competition career which the F1, as a dedicated and carefully-tailored road-car design, was never ever intended to have.
Since the most important result of that racing career was the McLaren F1 GTR’s outright victory in the 1995 Le Mans 24-Hour race, even Ron ended up by taking credit for the wisdom of delay – not a concept to which he would normally subscribe. But without him behind the project, it would never, ever, have seen the light of day, and without superstar design engineer Gordon Murray’s concept, capability, and stature as a project driver it would never have proved so capable.