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...and its two-seater F1 car

McLAREN kicked off the new Formula 1 season not only with a stunning 1-2 for Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard in Melbourne but also with the revelation that it is building a two-seater Formula 1 car to enable VIPs and media to understand more about how Grand Prix drivers work and what it is like to go at racing speeds in a modern F1 machine.

Media organizations are being asked to bid for the chance to be the first to ride in the curious F1 machine, which will have the passenger sitting behind but slightly more upright than the driver so that they can see the track ahead and appreciate some of the sensations experienced by the drivers. "It is designed to provide a unique opportunity to allow a passenger to experience the power and exhilaration of the modern Grand Prix car," explained McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

The car - which will have the designation MP4-98T - is being built for McLaren International by McLaren Cars with chief designer Barry Lett leading the project. The money raised by the auction will go to two charities: the Tommy's Campaign which is the team's official charity and KOBRA, a German charity for abused children nominated by Mercedes-Benz.

The car is expected to be finished in April around the time of the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola.

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