GENEVA -- The tense rivalry of McLaren and Ferrari on the Formula One track will spill onto the streets.
Both companies showed million-euro hybrids at the Geneva auto show last month. Soon after Ferrari unveiled its LaFerrari at the show, McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis breezed past security guards to take a good look.
"I'm sure it will be interesting competition," he said.
On paper, the LaFerrari and McLaren P1 are similar. The Italian car will cost about 1.2 million euros, or about $1.5 million; its British rival will cost about $1.4 million. McLaren will make 375 P1s, and Ferrari will produce 499 LaFerraris.
The P1 puts out 903 hp, the LaFerrari 963. Both carmakers say their cars will go from 0 to 62 mph in less than three seconds.
In a first for both companies, they are applying knowledge gained using Formula One's Kinetic Energy Recovery System technology to make the hybrids. McLaren's system teams a lightweight electric motor to a 220-pound battery pack that can be charged from a plug. The firm said that at city speeds the P1 can travel 12 miles on electric power only, contributing to an equivalent fuel economy rating of 27.3 mpg.
Ferrari shrinks the battery pack to 132 pounds, but it can't be charged externally. The result is a much lower equivalent fuel economy of about 16.5 mpg.
The P1 uses a variant of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 found in its 12C supercar. The LaFerrari gets its power from a 6.3-liter V-12.
Both cars are built on a carbon fiber structure to save weight. McLaren says the P1 weighs 3,086 pounds; Ferrari didn't disclose a figure.
Both companies use active aerodynamics to increase downforce in track situations. Both the P1's rear wing and the LaFerrari's rear spoiler retract fully to leave each car's profile smooth and flowing.
Another thing both cars have in common is a list of buyers. McLaren and Ferrari say they are oversubscribed, and that they will choose buyers based on past loyalty.
"We must be sure that they are proud Ferrari customers and that they will keep it, not buy to earn money on it," Bassi said.
McLaren Automotive COO Mike Flewitt said that rivalry on the road was as important as on the racetrack: "It's good to have competitors. It stretches your thinking."
But he has no doubt which is the better machine. He said: "Our car, I am certain, will be faster round a track, without a doubt."