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Home » McLaren Formula 1™ Race Car Review(42141)

McLaren Formula 1™ Race Car Review(42141)

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of Technic vehicles, but building the McLaren F1 set has helped me see the error of my ways. I’ve realised my real issue and that’s the lack of space to store them once built. The McLaren is a great example at a whopping 65cm long!

I love Formula 1, it’s like a modern day soap opera combined with unbelievable engineering, speed and skill. When LEGO announced the latest in a series of Formula 1 cars, the 2022 McLaren F1 car, I was pretty pumped. It looked fantastic and the team had done a pretty good job of blending the 2021 and 2022 vehicles. This might be a concern for some hoping to have strictly the 2021 or 2022 car, but for me it wasn’t really an issue. F1 cars tend to evolve through the season within the technical limits as development effort occurs.

For those not too into F1, you may not know that the cars were quite substantially changed this year to help with overtaking. At a high level, they look somewhat similar, but if you look closely you’ll see major changes in the wheels and aero. This set covers the changes well and was timed almost to perfection being released at the same time as the 2022 cars were shown for the first time. 

The first 9 pages of the manual provide a comprehensive overview of the build, the new 2022 F1 changes to the cars and a comparison of the model with the real car. The set looks great, but as with any extremely aero dynamic vehicle (ala a F1 car) it’s hard to replicate the curves perfectly.

We start the build with the rear suspension and the motor. We’ve built quiet a few large technic sets, but I always get a kick out of the moving pistons! The instructions are quite comprehensive but some of build steps are quite intricate so can take careful reading. Don’t try to build this in a poorly lit room, or you’ll definitely regret it! A “friend of mine” did this and they raged a couple of times. 🙂

We then move on to the front of the car including the addition of the front suspension. Building the set gives you a real appreciation for the amazing work of the engineers in a real team. It’s complex on this very small scale. Imagine how good you need to be when the driver puts it into the wall in qualifying and you need to try to rebuild the real car by the next day after it’s been heavily damaged! The actual suspension design in this set is amazing. It’s not the traditional suspension approach, but actually converts a horizontal spring into vertical compression. Although the design is relatively complex, it’s fantastic and I really enjoyed it.

By this stage in the build you can see just how long the car is, even before we install the front and rear aero parts and side kkckboards.

This years regulations removed a lot of the aero on the real life cars and the LEGO designers have replicated what’s left quite well. There’s a lot of stickers to be added (boooo) but the orange and blue is true to form and pleasing to the eye.

As we progress through the build, it takes a little more attention due to the increasing number of existing parts in the instructions overlapping. I suspect a technically minded 15 year old could get through the set if they pay attention. I was missing a couple of parts, but as I built this set in two locations – our house and a hotel room, there’s a medium to very high chance that I just lost them in transit. And yes, people do look at you strangely when you’re carrying a 65cm LEGO model around a hotel lobby…

We move on to adding the cowling for the engine and overall bodywork. Plus more stickers for the corporate sponsors.

Adding the rear spoiler comes next including a moveable DRS (drag reduction system) used to spice up the racing action. The idea is that in certain areas, you can reduce drag to make overtaking easier. This is done through opening the rear wing and the model supports this action (albeit manually activated). Did our Engineers install the rear-wing upside down before taking this picture. Yes, yes they did. But after a stern talking too, this has now been resolved (Thanks Gunther).

We then add the Halo device. When this was first introduced a few years back, there was quite a bit of debate, but it’s been a literal life-saver since. Had it not been introduced in 2008, it’s likely that all of the following drivers may not be with us anymore, or at least certainly not racing – Lewis Hamilton, Charles LeClerc, Romain Grosjean and Zhou Guanyu. I’m not entirely convinced with the elements used to make the halo. In real life it’s very aero-dynamic whereas in this set, it feels a touch too boxy for my liking. 

The build finishes with the air intake and the addition of the tyres. For me, adding the tyres is always the most satisfying part of the build. The tyres including on this set are full wets. This means they have the full grooves to dispel the water. It would have been nice to get full slicks (no grooves) as it’s a more commonly used tyre in most races and better reflect the F1 sport. Did I mention this model is huge!

The final addition is the wheel caps used to increase the aerodynamic nature of the car. Although it’s been around for a little while now, this set was initially released with Pirelli branding on the wheel stickers much like the real cars tyres. For an unknown reason these have now been replaced with more generic blue wheel smear. No doubt it was something to do with licensing, but it’s a little disappointing that Pirelli and LEGO couldn’t come to an agreement. Given all the other brands are reflected, I suspect Pirelli may have been asking for an exorbitant licensing amount, but that’s only a guess on my part.

Overall Thoughts

The team have done a great job with this set. I’m a huge F1 fan so having the McLaren F1 set take pride of place with the other vehicles gives me great satisfaction. I’d love to have seen slick tyres included. It would also be fantastic to get Pirelli P-Zero wheel cap stickers sent to buyers from LEGO if the licensing can get sorted out. Notwithstanding these minor issues, it was a fun build that any Technic or F1 fan will really enjoy. Once you buy this set, make sure you clear some room as it is truly huge. It looks fantastic as a display piece in your home or office.

Set: McLaren Formula 1™ Race Car
Theme: Technic
Set #: 42141
Number of Minifigs: 0
Number of Pieces: 1432
RRP: $279.99

A special thanks to our friends at Zavvi who supplied this set, and also a special prize for one lucky reader.

Congratulations to Brett Martinovich – You’ll have your very own McLaren F1 LEGO set racing to you soon from the crew at Zavvi!

Overall: 82%

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