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The MP4/4 Debate

Discussion in 'F1' started by Metastable, Dec 26, 2021.

  1. Metastable

    Metastable Formula Junior

    I am surprised there has no talk on FChat about the raging debate of Gordon Murray and the development of the MP4/4, given the articles and videos that have recently surfaced.

    Motorsport Article
    https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/articles/single-seaters/f1/gordon-murrays-living-in-a-parallel-universe-mclaren-designers-hit-back-over-mp4-4-claims

    YouTube video…..


    I think this is big news in the F1/automotive world. I don’t see why Gordon does not give credit where it is due, and not just take credit for the F1 road car and build on that reputation.
     
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  3. DeSoto

    DeSoto F1 Veteran

    Nov 26, 2003
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    Not so big news. IMO. Both want to sell their cars and with the years Gordon Murray has become a sort of "star", with the negative influence that can bring to any person. It´s also reasonable to think that with the years and in a complex team work, it´s not so easy to determine who made what.

    Personally, I think it´s a bit sad to see grown men behaving like teenagers, but I can understand they want to make the best for their businesses.
     
  4. Turbopanzer

    Turbopanzer F1 World Champ
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    One word...Ego. With success, it grows. Mr Murray needs to take air out of his and acknowledge those that produced the success. Truthfully, i don't see it happening. Considering who his former employer was, he is only swimming in the same pool of them. Bernie's was the biggest.
     
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  5. ingegnere

    ingegnere F1 Rookie
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    Full interview dropped today. Curious to hear about his Ferrari experience:

     
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  6. william

    william F1 World Champ
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    Quite an interesting interview from a man who worked at the heart of F1 with Senna, Prost, Mansell, Hakkinen and more.

    Steve Nichols' insight into the working of the Scuderia confirms exactly what others have said over the years.

    I couldn't help having a good laught hearing from his experience at Maranello.

    Gordon Murray doesn't come out smelling of roses following this.
     
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  8. ingegnere

    ingegnere F1 Rookie
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    Though a pretty interesting oral history—and cool to see actual engineering drawings—I’m still sceptical about many of Nichols’ claims. He seems to have an axe to grind and if he’s to be believed, everybody he worked for, or with, was borderline incompetent. A lot of what he says in this video is a repeat of what I’ve already read in at least two magazine articles. Ironically, in one of those articles Murray basically says Nichols was a bad designer.

    Regarding Gordon Murray, I find it hard to believe that someone with the design experience and proven track record, and that was the de facto Technical Director had no input into the design of the MP4/4. Just the fact that the car employed a pull-rod suspension at the front like the BT-55 and that the rear was basically a rehash of that same car with the same gearbox supplier and the same designer—brought over from Brabham—tells me there’s more to the story than what we’re hearing from Nichols. He also didn’t spare the designer of the car that followed the MP4/4, Neil Oatley, and McLaren as a whole as it was in 1995–so basically everyone at McLaren except him.

    He also seems to traffic in cliches and biased, prejudiced tropes—which will certainly amuse a certain xenophobe—for which he offered little facts to back his prejudices. He made Ferrari sound like a bunch of clowns yet when he joined in 1990, they had one hand on the WDC except for the actions of his best bud, the slimy Senna. In trying to diminish Ferrari’s capabilities, he disparaged both the complexity of the torsion bar springs—designed by his mentor at McLaren, Barnard, but conveniently omitted—and the fact they didn’t design springs of smaller increments in stiffness as they had at McLaren. Yet the Ferrari springs were designed by Barnard who most likely was the one behind the methodology used at McLaren so this also didn’t pass the smell test. The story about the engineers saying they tried stiffer springs “3 years ago” sounds like pure BS, as the car from ‘86 or ‘87 was completely different. Also, while trying to disparage Ferrari he had to reluctantly admit they had good track engineering, a novel transmission, a very good calculation group, they developed good reliability and he implied there was nothing wrong with their aero.

    So, while disparaging Ferrari for “being Ferrari”, he goes on to say that McLaren in 1995 was just as bad, yet he didn’t ridicule them except to use that to show how much he helped to turn around that team. Which, also, is not true as that team only came good again when Newey joined in ‘97.
     
  9. Bas

    Bas Three Time F1 World Champ

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    Exactly my feelings as well. Nichols seems very interested in promoting himself, In a way Nichols reminds me a lot of Sam Michaels (of Williams); at the time the only engineer in F1 that employed his own PR agent (as far as I know, not many others repeated this totally idiotic thing).
     
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  10. nerofer

    nerofer F1 World Champ

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    And exactly my feelings as well; the debate about who is the actual father of the MP4/4 has been raging for years, and whatever one might think of Gordon Murray, there is quite a "bundle of clues" (in french Law parlance: "méthode du faisceau d'indices") that makes his claim valid. I, for all that it means and nothing more, have always looked at the MP4/4 as an extrapolation of the Brabham BT55 concept.

    Rgds
     
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  11. TonyL

    TonyL F1 Rookie

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    #9 TonyL, Dec 27, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2021
    I always remember this guy as the one who was in charge of the fantastically successful F92A twin flooor concept, it was so successful nobody copied it!! Great sound though.

    He even managed to cock up the 643 being an evolution of the beautiful 640.

    Listen to John Barnards podcast, much more interesting.

    Tony

    PS- Coppock i believe liked to take credit for the McLaren F! road car as the first mid position three seater sportscar.................. Ferrari in 1966 with the 365 P was the first, so dont believe all you hear!

    PPS - he got lucky with the Honda engine being the most reliable, fuel efficient F1 car of its time.
     
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  13. ingegnere

    ingegnere F1 Rookie
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    Great comments and true that although a very good car and with great drivers, probably the MP4/4’s biggest advantage over the others was its engine.

    The Brunner/Barnard ‘87/‘88 Ferrari was a pretty good car but the engine was not at Honda’s level of efficiency. Heck, its basic design combined with an outdated Cosworth in the form of a Rial produced some quite interesting results the next year despite a minimal budget and with De Cesaris at the helm. ;)
     
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  14. TonyL

    TonyL F1 Rookie

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    Thanks - Had they listened to JB they could have improved the fuel consumption but pride got in the way. The engine dept were a law unto themselves and basically untouchable. It was a very good car in all reality, it just couldnt run at full gallop for the whole race. Highly frustrating to watch at the time.:)
     
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  15. ingegnere

    ingegnere F1 Rookie
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    Hmmm, not sure how much input JB had on the engine side other than the physical integration of the engine and ancillaries. Also, I’d guess his focus was on designing the N/A car—which debuted in 1989–including the un-raced 639 which was ready and testing already in 1988.

    Ultimately, I believe Ferrari did not have the resources that Honda did to develop a limited boost/high-fuel economy engine. They were not so bad in 1987 but really fell back in ‘88 with the tighter fuel consumption restrictions and probably efforts diluted by the new V-12.

    Recall that the engine group at the time included ex-Renault Jean-Jacques His, who went on to design the V-12 and then back to Renault to do their V-10.
     
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  16. TonyL

    TonyL F1 Rookie

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    Not sure where i read this, his book "the perfect Car" is an eye opener and more interesting than Steve Nichols.

    JJ His? name rings a bell, I beleive you are correct !
     
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  17. ingegnere

    ingegnere F1 Rookie
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    Yes, JB comes highly recommended. I have the Newey book and was meaning to get this one too. Just might do it today. Been also eyeing the Haynes MP4/4 book—looks interesting!
     
  18. TonyL

    TonyL F1 Rookie

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    The Perfect Car - Highly recommended, I couldnt put it down, it was so good i read it again afterwards. Possibly better than the Newey Book as the ferrari years was riveting.

    It did come across as "look at me and how good I am / was" almost trying to hard to emphasise how good he is. We know that Mr B;-)

    At least Haynes sold 6 copies:)
     
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  19. jtremlett

    jtremlett F1 Rookie

    Feb 18, 2004
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    Did you watch the interview? The height of the car is explained. 17 McLaren people who worked on the car apparently agree with Steve Nichols version of events vs 1, Gordon Murray. I don't know what is true but 17 against 1 is quite a lot!!
     
  20. ingegnere

    ingegnere F1 Rookie
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    The fact that 15 people (what I counted) signed up to this is impressive on the surface but note that 5 of these were on the production side so probably not intimately involved in the design.

    Also, missing from the signatories is D. North—he worked for Murray at Brabham and was brought in by Murray for MP4/4—who was responsible for the gearbox and transaxle structure as well as the rear suspension geometry. And, per the article below, though Neil Oatley—the other Chief Designer—signed on to the 1990 letter, he later corroborated Murray’s story confirming the fact that they were indeed shown BT-55 drawings. He also made the error of saying the BT-55 and MP4/4 had pull-rod suspension also at the rear, though this could be a misquote.

    So who’s 100% right or being truthful? I don’t think either party is.
     
  21. technom3

    technom3 F1 World Champ
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    I hate that jayemmoncars guy. But it was a good interview/video.
     
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  22. Jeronimo GTO

    Jeronimo GTO Formula 3

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    Same over here.

    And his “taste” in shirts is a crime against humanity.

    :D
     
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  23. crinoid

    crinoid F1 Veteran
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    The letter from McLaren makes it VERY clear. On another note I was really excited to see Murray’s new car and when I started watching all these interviews with him he is almost unwatchable. His attitude is so terrible.
     
  24. technom3

    technom3 F1 World Champ
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    He is not personable. He gets a pass because of the f1 but if he were just starting out... He'd get the attention of an ash tray engineer.
     
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  25. ShineKen

    ShineKen F1 World Champ
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    Not to mention Bamsey admitted recently (and discussed in the video) he only consulted Gordon and Honda for the book. No surprise Gordan takes all credit!
     
  26. nerofer

    nerofer F1 World Champ

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    But the debate about who designed that car has been litterally raging for YEARS, and will probably continue to do so. Both Steve Nichols and Gordon Murray have spent a incalculable number of hours in a considerable number of different media contradicting themselves. There is nothing new here: Nothing at all.

    I do not read as many Formula One litterature nowadays than I did in the past, when I was more interested in Formula One, only "Motorsport Magazine"; and, as late as August this year:

    "Motorsport Magazine" September 2021 issue,page 63: Gordon Murray: "This thing about Steve Nichols being chief designer is the biggest load of rubbish you've ever heard. The MP4/4 was not designed by Steve Nichols, I can promise you that" .

    So, as the two men will probably never agree, who you believe in that matter is unfortunately a question of opinion, or, as said in my first message, you have to do what the French lawyers do when there is no proof or evidence: the method of the "bundle of clues" ("Méthode du faisceau d'indices"), that is the "next best thing" because there is no fact, proof or evidence.

    And my opinion is that Murray was the Chief Technical Director, that the concept of the MP4/4 was his, and that Nichols and others drafted the car under Murray's supervision.
    As said by "ingegnere" above, one key element of the team was Dave North, whom Gordon Murray called to make the concept possible, and who had worked with Murray at Brabham on the BT55.
    Furthermore, Nichols had never designed a very good car before or after that one, whereas Murray has designed quite a number of very good cars.

    Rgds
     
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  27. ShineKen

    ShineKen F1 World Champ
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    What’s “new” here is the letter signed by 15 Mclaren staff members who worked on the project citing inaccuracies of the Bamsey book.
     
  28. nerofer

    nerofer F1 World Champ

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    I would have been slightly more interested, and probably more convinced, shall we say, if these witnesses had witnessed earlier than 33 years after the facts. Remember the debate has been raging for a number of years; why have they been waiting so long?
    Furthermore, as quoted in the "Motorsport Magazine" article, Murray still considers today, in August 2021, as he had said a number of times along these 33 years, that the MP4/4 was not designed by Steve Nichols.
    So nothing new, really.

    Rgds
     

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