The McLaren MP4/5 and its derived sister model MP4/5B were Formula One racing cars designed by the McLaren Formula One team based in Woking, UK. The MP4/5 was loosely based on its 1988 predecessor, the all-conquering MP4/4. McLaren used the new car for half of the 1989 season using the Weismann Longitudinal Transmission from the MP4/4, and the MP4/5B with the Weismann Transverse Transmission for the last half of the 1989 season and for 1990, earning back to back drivers' and constructors' world titles with the type. The car was designed by American engineer Steve Nichols who previously had designed both of its turbocharged predecessors, the MP4/3, which was an all-new design for McLaren by Nichols, as well as its highly successful MP4/4 the following year/season.
Over the course of two seasons, the MP4/5 took 16 wins, 27 pole positions and 263 points before it was replaced by the MP4/6 for 1991.
With Gordon Murray departing McLaren's Formula One project to focus on the McLaren road car projects, technical leadership and development of the new updated MP4/5B was left in the hands of Neil Oatley. Whilst the MP4/5 was largely the dominant car during 1989 it did have some weakness in its aerodynamic efficiency. For the beginning of 1990, Neil Oatley's most significant changes to the car were the modification of and re profiling of the radiators to which they were increased in size to improve their efficiency. The car's on track development would be performed by race drivers Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger as well as the team's new test drivers Jonathan Palmer and Allan McNish assisting in its development.
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