McLaren Mercedes MP4/19, Lewis Hamilton – Autosport Young Driver Test Silverstone 2004 – (530044418):
Before Lewis Hamilton was world-famous for being perhaps one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, he got to test out the McLaren Mercedes MP4/19. The sleek grey paint and carbon fibre body are eerily reminiscent of the Mercedes McLaren he drives today, which of course has been such a keystone to his success.
The MP4/19 was assembled by McLaren for use in the 2004 season. Its chassis was designed by Adrian Newey, and was often described as a ‘debugged version of the MP4-18,’ its predecessor. However, this too would turn out to be an underwhelming car, suffering various problems surrounding its reliability at the start of the season. It actually recorded eight retirements in just five races. It’s Ilmor-built Mercedes-Benz F0119Q 3.0-litre V10 could produce 870 horsepower at an immense rpm of 18,500. However, even with all this power, the MP4/19 still drastically underperformed.
Another hinderance was the ban of electronic driver aids, such as launch control and fully-automatic gear boxes. It only reached halfway through the season until McLaren unveiled the much-improved MP4/19B. The fact that McLaren released a ‘B-version’ of their new car speaks volumes, and unfortunately, the MP4/19 would not go down in history as one of McLaren’s finest pieces of work.