Ferrari and McLaren prepare to do battle off the track

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F1’s two most successful teams of the last four decades are squaring up to each other off the track as both reveal their latest top-of-the-range road cars.

Ferrari unveiled the LaFerrari (see video below) at the Geneva International Motor Show today. It will go up against the McLaren P1 (pictured) for the honor of being the ultimate hybrid supercar.

The LaFerrari – a curious choice of name which translates simply to ‘The Ferrari’ – boasts a 6.2-litre V12 engine whose 788hp output is enhanced by the addition of a hybrid engine, giving it a total of 950hp.

In contrast the P1’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 and hybrid motor produce a combined 903hp. Yet both companies claim their beasts will hit 217.5mph. “There is rarely any need to go fastest,” a McLaren spokesperson added drily.

Unlike the LaFerrari, the P1 can be driven solely in electric mode with a range of 12.4 miles at an average speed of 30mph. “More than enough for an owner to enter a city centre Zero Emissions Zone, have dinner and return home,” say McLaren. Jenson Button arrived at the launch of the team’s 2013 F1 contender in one, then the P1 silently reversed out of view.

Ferrari says an electric-only mode “would not fit the mission” of their car but admit they tested the technology: “a full-electric version of LaFerrari achieved just 220g/km of C02 emissions on the combined cycle”.

Both are keen to play up the F1 connections of their machines, referring to their hybrid engines as “Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems”. McLaren take it a step further, with “DRS”-like active aerodynamics and a launch control system dubbed IPAS (Instant Power Assist System).

Both cars reflect the traditions of the companies: Ferrari engine-led, McLaren technology-focused. Ferrari are yet to name their price, but don’t expect it to cost much less than the P1’s $1.3m price tag.