The unleashing of the great breath

Blissfully Freudian moments from the present: with the McLaren 765LT on the track at Silverstone.
Text Matthias Mederer
Photo Matthias Mederer · ramp.pictures

The world has become confused. On the one hand, the colors are pale and dull; on the other, they are rich and bright. On the one hand, it is noise-canceling quiet, on the other hand, loud and screeching. On the one hand, the sky is a loose tent, empty and without life, on the other, it is a dramatic behemoth, immense, with an abundance of power. The car-savvy person hears it under the title: Aerodynamics.

The design of the McLaren 765LT retells old wisdom. It is the story of a racing existence, a man with his machine, restless, searching, with insane speeds against the wind - but also alone. With himself. Conscious.

It is the story of a racing existence, a man with his machine, restless, searching, with insane speeds against the wind - but also alone. With himself. Conscious.

This car, the evolutionary stage of the McLaren 720S in the direction beyond the tangible, would wonderfully fit into a picture by Jeff Wall - as an antagonist. The McLaren 765LT would be the ideal break with the established. There, where man is defencelessly placed in the unhoused nature, where a nameless force whirls him around, pushes him, makes him stagger, where the great breath knocks the leaves out of his hand and blows the hat off his head, there this McLaren would stand mute and uninvolved in the center. Impassive, bored perhaps, painted in screaming Nardo orange, it offers the only resistant place of retreat, sucking in the eternally whistling, whining wind, letting it flow through it in a controlled manner, flow around it, showing it a path.

The carbon rock weighs less than fourteen hundred kilos. And if necessary, it changes its position at up to 330 kilometers per hour. According to the Saffir-Simpson scale, a hurricane is defined as a wind speed of 118.4 kilometers per hour or more. The perspective changes as soon as the gullwing door is closed: the threatening hurricane becomes a headwind at highway speed.

A little caution is called for with the McLaren 765LT. Not because it effortlessly paints two black stripes on the asphalt with cold tires even at 180 km/h at cooler temperatures with spinning rear tires, which could then be exhibited as »street art« in a gallery; rather, the 765LT requires a healthy dose of self-awareness. For those who stroll through life with a well-fed belly, a pacemaker, or as a conformist to social expectations will have a hard time with this car.

The carbon fiber seat shells are tightly and precisely cut, and the aerodynamics, fissured by numerous air intakes and carbon fiber, do everything they can to avoid being misunderstood, not at first glance, and by then it's usually too late for a second glance because the car is out of sight. Ironically, this is also because of the wind. Because while the McLaren 765LT may dominate the aerodynamic game with the wind like no other sports car, it also uses the wind to give its combustion engine the necessary wings to stay in the picture. Keyword: Twin-scroll turbo. In other words, it partly beats air resistance in longitudinal acceleration with its own weapons by giving its V8 combustion engine additional power thanks to the forced supply of air in a highly compressed state of pressure: 800 Newton meters at its peak. The driver then feels this power in his lungs, thus exhausting the air circuit and overusing metaphors.

The carbon fiber seat shells are tightly and precisely cut, and the aerodynamics, fissured by numerous air intakes and carbon fiber, do everything they can to avoid being misunderstood.

When thinking about this McLaren, one can't help but think of Sigmund Freud. Whatever one may think in detail about his theory, the importance of the instinctual life cannot be overstated. The unconscious, the It, in which reality and fantasy, desire and aggression, infantile and adult, sacred and evil are inextricably linked, in the 765LT on the Formula 1 race track at Silverstone these things are suddenly present again and again. The slightly late braking at Stowe Corner after the insanely fast Hangar Straight, the turn-in on the front axle, the breakaway of the light rear end while at the same time the transmission declines down the gears with crashing hardness, the instinct-controlled countersteering, inevitably reminds us that even in supposedly clearly structured fields like a race track, the unpredictable, the abysmal can be expected at any time. Or at least the gravel.

Human beings are not only made up of rationality, but also of dreams, tears, greed, hatred, and love mania, and you don't simply banish these dark sides to the basement of your personality with impunity. The deeper you descend into this basement at the wheel of the 765LT, the more the McLaren makes you aware of it. Only it is blessed by almost divine grace and forgives even where others punish mercilessly. And it's precisely in this in-between world of shit-that-was-close! and just-barely-worked-out! that a great pleasure lies. Curve for curve.

And it's precisely in this in-between world of shit-that-was-close! and just-barely-worked-out! that a great pleasure lies. Curve for curve.

After a few laps in the 765LT, Ulf Poschardt, renowned editor-in-chief, book author, Porsche driver, and horsepower intellectual, leaves us somewhat perplexed: »The archaic task of the sports car,« Poschardt once said, was to »make you forget the limits of physics.« At this point, we have to contradict him. With British politeness, because that suits the McLaren, but also energetically, because that suits the McLaren even more: The archaic task of a sports car is not to make you forget the limits of physics, but to make you experience them! And it does so in a way that humans can experience driving by themselves in no other vehicle than a pure sports car.

Light, agile, active, and addicted to scanning the road like a hungry truffle pig scans the forest floor. I want to feel it tug and push and shove and pound! Damn it! Excuse me. If you want to forget the limits of physics, go swimming in the Dead Sea. For everyone else: think faster! Because as far as the human reaction time of averagely athletic hobby drivers is concerned, this McLaren catapults its driver into dimensions of action that can best be compared with the processes after pressing the fast-forward button on a VCR.

A serious examination of the functioning of the human brain and its performance is therefore indispensable: In 1995, American researcher Anna Wise described a brain-wave model she called »high-performance mind,« defining four electromagnetic levels that should not be viewed hierarchically, but as equals. In the waking state, the beta frequency, according to the highly simplified model, the oscillations of the brain action currents vary between 14 and 38 hertz. It is the state of logical-rational thinking. In other words, the state that is completely sufficient for driving the vast majority of passenger cars - even on the racetrack - and is recommendable. In the 765LT, however, they will probably analyze two things quite rationally after the third bend at the latest, firstly: the braking point was probably a good 30 meters earlier, and secondly: so this is what it looks like, the world on the other side of the boundaries of physics.

Alpha gilt als Brücke zwischen dem Bewussten und dem Unterbewussten, wir arbeiten mit Bildern, Symbolen, Gefühlen, entwickeln Ideen und Fantasie und wir träumen. Von der Ideallinie in Silverstone, zum Beispiel.

That's why they also need those brain activities that the researcher places on the levels below, those that - ironically - oscillate slower, between 7 and 14 hertz, the so-called alpha waves. Alpha is the state in which the boundary between waking and sleeping becomes blurred, a kind of daydreaming, but in which the human mind is most effective because it is no longer disturbed by ratio. We achieve alpha when we read a book or listen to music very attentively. Or driving a McLaren.

Alpha is considered a bridge between the conscious and the subconscious. We work with images, symbols, feelings, develop ideas, and imagination, and we dream. Of the racing line at Silverstone, for example. The theta waves oscillate between 4 and 8 hertz. They correspond to sleep. Theta is the level for memories and emotions. According to the theory, anyone who consciously enters this level learns to increase their creativity and, by the second lap at the latest, automatically knows where the correct braking point is.

Wir erreichen Alpha, wenn wir ganz aufmerksam ein Buch lesen oder Musik hören. Oder eben McLaren fahren.

The slowest brain waves are the delta waves, below four Hertz. They are measured primarily in deep sleep and resemble the state of unconsciousness. In this state, the person comes into contact with the so-called »sixth sense.« The trick is to consciously access the different levels. Targeted breathing techniques can help, as can relaxation exercises. Only in this way would people be able to develop their minds effectively and make better use of their own potential. In other words: drive faster.

But try explaining that to the instructor in the passenger seat who is yelling at them: »Break! Break! Break!« Here comes the tail. Still downshifting with the realization: »Oh, oh, this is not going to work!« Thank goodness the run-off zone after the Vale is paved. So we open the steering, make a big turn, a bit of pebble, and tire wear crackle in the wheel wells, and driving over the curbs is much harder than expected. It's a racer car, for sure. Back on the track and greetings go out to Sigmund, the old lecher!

Do you need to know all this to take the McLaren 765LT onto the race track at Silverstone? You don't. What matters is that its development is the result of a months-long process. Nothing is random, everything is subject to the will to be even faster, even more precise, even more agile, even more intelligent, in short: to play the game with the wind even better. That the result is so impressive is the most sensible part of its 765 qualities. The thrill of acceleration, the sheer incredibility of cornering, the breathlessness that hits the chest when braking thanks to the ultra-strong six-point harness, all seem the transcendental consequence of a religious experience. But when the central figure at the wheel on the start-finish straight looks upward toward heaven, there is no archangel or Virgin Mary or even the ghost of Ayrton Senna to be seen, but simply and shatteringly a guy with a checkered flag signaling: »Cool down. Box, Box, Box!«


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