There’s a lot to like about this car. It’s a McLaren, so it’s a British car. A real British car, as in it’s owned, designed and built in Britain. Or so I thought, but it seems there are some Middle Eastern pistons in this pie. It’s also a Brexiters dream company, what with Bruce McLaren being Canadian – we’re all for the Commonwealth again. Or Empire 2.0, if that’s your cup of delusion. It’s also a fantastic car. Mrs P and I have driven past their HQ a few times in Woking. We like Woking. We could even live in Woking one day. Will that ever happen? Well, if my ambition to become a train driver comes to pass, then yes.
Do you remember the outrage when Top Gear’s trio of presenters gave Mexico a hard time? And the Mexican ambassador in London in particular. Although it turned out the ambassador is actually a pretty switched on guy. They’ve had a few light hearted pops since, mostly poking fun at the reaction they received. Clarkson also went to the Mexican Embassy in London for the Independence Day celebration a year or so ago and made amends.
But still, they did mock Mexico’s first ever home grown car, the Mastretta MX. They didn’t seem to have a terribly high opinion of the little roadster. Many people pointed out that Mexico has the last laugh, seeing as the country overtook the UK at the beginning of the century as a global car manufacturer. I’ll be honest though. I’m not totally taken by the Mastretta’s looks. And if we measure quality over quantity, I’d pick a Jag, Bentley, Range Rover, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin or Mini over a Chevy or VW any day of the week.
But enough of these numbers and marques. Let’s move on. Before someone points out that Britain’s peak as a car manufacturer came in the 1970’s, and my quality over quantity argument falls over. So. Moving on. You’ll be pleased to know that Top Gear have gone the whole hog to atone for their naughty comments. The main offender, Richard Hammond, was sent into Mexico to road test the Mastretta. He quite liked it, with reservations. As a first attempt, it got a thumbs up. Ok, there were a few ‘beheading’ puns, but still. Mexicans, take what you can get, and this is probably as much of a fig leaf as you’ll get.
But I have good news on the Mexican/British car front, and we can leave Top Gear well behind us! I do enjoy F1 season, watching Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren, Williams and the gang send their automotive steeds to assorted tarmacked arenas around the world to do battle. The new season begins in March, and young Mexican driver Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez has gotten himself a seat in a McLaren. That’s a hell of a ride to get. Checo’s three 2012 podium finishes, in a less than competitive car, obviously impressed the right people. His odds of winning the title? A decent 14/1. He’s already setting hot lap times, posting the fasted time in pre season testing in Barcelona.
I’m not much of a gambler, truth be told. But those are half decent odds, and if McLaren have a competitive card, then it’s gotta be worth a fiver. Hasn’t it? I’ve put a fiver down, so I’ll tell you towards the end of the year. Can a British Mexican motor combo turn my fiver into seventy five shiny British pounds? Course, I should be in Mexico by then, so 1,450 shiny Mexican pesos may be preferable. But the excitement of seeing a Mexican ride a British car to a world title would be worth more than the money. He does have tough competition though. The other McLaren contains a seasoned F1 pro with a world title already in the cabinet. And he has what is quite possibly the greatest name in the history of motor racing – Jensen Button.