Ever since we snapped that Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill (21331) together, we’ve rediscovered our love of LEGO building. Obviously, there are a ton of actual game tie-in sets available (check the bottom of this article for those) but we’re not afraid to highlight the odd set which is gaming adjacent. Today’s topic, for example, isn’t tied to any Codemasters title—but hey, it also wouldn’t look out of place in a game-cave that’s already rocking a racing seat.
Unless you have nearly 300,000 LEGO bricks tucked away in the toy bucket (and close to 2000 hours of spare time up your sleeve) replicating the life-size F1 replica LEGO recently unveiled at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix is out of the question. Fortunately, there’s a compromise: the LEGO McLaren Formula 1 Race Car. It may not be life-sized, but at a whopping 65cm (25.5 in.) long it’s still surprisingly large for a LEGO model.
Made in conjunction with McLaren, the LEGO McLaren Formula 1 Race Car is designed to recreate the look of McLaren’s 2022 F1 car and is a mix of complex Technic architecture, faithful suspension and steering geometry, a number of moving mechanical features, and sweeping aero accessories.
Building the LEGO McLaren Formula 1 Race Car
The LEGO McLaren Formula 1 Race Car isn’t the first large, Technic open-wheel race car LEGO has designed. Indeed, LEGO released a similarly enormous, 1:8 scale Ferrari F1 car back in 2006 (as well as the non-F1 licensed LEGO Technic Grand Prix Racer, set #42000, in 2013).
However, while the Ferrari features some pretty significant sections of the car that are entirely see-through (and has a slightly more skeleton-like appearance overall) the McLaren looks a little more finished-off when completed. LEGO has made one deliberate clear omission to keep the V6 engine visible from the outside but, beyond that, the car is mostly buttoned-up to the best of LEGO’s angular ability.
Covering up the guts of the car does hide most of the cool work underneath emulating the push-rod suspension in F1 cars, but it does make for an impressive static model – especially from a slight distance. The body doesn’t open like the 2013 Grand Prix Racer, but the McLaren lacks the exhaust system seen in that one so it wouldn’t have been as interesting to look at anyway. The front wing looks very good and comes together in an extremely satisfying way, and the sail-shape side panels that form the side pods are a particularly effective solution considering the complexity of conveying the myriad curved surfaces on an F1 car. They look quite good from the front and side, although the illusion crumbles a little when viewed from the back.
It’s a shame the sticker set reflects McLaren’s 2021 livery (with a couple sponsor exceptions) and not the current 2022 design, but it’s obvious the realities and timelines of licensing have tied hands there. What’s more disappointing is that LEGO has shipped the McLaren with full wet tyres. It would have looked markedly better and racier shod with soft or medium slicks; not only would it have eliminated the tread, but the yellow and red designs on F1 slicks would probably pop more. As it stands, the dark blue text that signifies full wets disappears a little into the black wheel hubs.
Containing 1432 pieces, the McLaren is a lengthy build. Don’t be misled by the fact the build is broken down in what appears to be just four chapters; for instance, by the time you bust open all the bushings and tiny pieces, and empty the miscellaneous pouch of wheel hubs, the fourth “bag” alone is basically six bags. At roughly a couple of hours per segment, the set is easily good for several evenings of entertainment (or a single breakfast-to-supper sprint, if you’re so inclined).
The set is billed at 18+ but experienced, younger LEGO Technic builders are likely to be more than capable of building the model – particularly as it’s not as mechanically complex as the 2013 Grand Prix Racer. That said, despite its unsightly tyre selection, this is arguably the best-looking LEGO F1 car to date – even though its chunky girth may require you to build a new wing on your house to display it in.
The LEGO McLaren Formula 1 Race Car, set #42141, contains 1432 pieces and is attributed to LEGO designer Lars Krogh Jensen.