Bruce McLaren drove his own McLaren M7A to victory at Spa to take the first F1 win for the team
McLaren as a team made its F1 debut in 1966, but it wasn’t until the M7A of 1968 that the results really started to roll in. Denny Hulme drove the car to second in Spain and two races later at the fearsome old Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Bruce McLaren himself took top honours.
Chris Amon qualified on pole for Ferrari by a massive 3.7 seconds from Jackie Stewart. He was looking strong in the race too, but in true Amon fashion bad luck struck - a stone punctured his radiator and he was out. Leader John Surtees then succumbed to suspension failure, leaving Hulme’s McLaren battling it out with Stewart’s Matra for the win. When Hulme slipped back with driveshaft problems, Stewart was looking set to take a comfortable win.
However, the battle with Hulme had consequences - on the penultimate lap, Stewart started to run out of fuel. He had to pit, promoting McLaren into the lead and giving his team its very first win. Pedro Rodriguez finished second for BRM, with Jacky Ickx’s Ferrari in third.
Unfortunately the first victory for McLaren for the fourth and final one for Bruce, who was killed testing a Can-Am car in 1970. In the 50 years since that first win, McLaren has won an additional 181 races. With the way things are going at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s another 50 years before McLaren wins another…