McLaren Honda

McLaren Honda drives innovation with secure collaboration from Intralinks

McLaren Honda is world famous for its Grand Prix racing team, which has won more than 180 races in its 50-year history. Today, the group encompasses a range of high-technology businesses built on the shared values of innovation, creativity, and a single-minded commitment to win. In addition to the race team, they operate McLaren Automotive Ltd., which manufactures high-performance sports cars; McLaren Applied Technologies Ltd, which commercializes materials and systems used in transportation, healthcare, and athletics; and McLaren Electronics Systems Ltd., which is the exclusive supplier of engine control systems for all Grand Prix, Indy Car, and NASCAR teams.

“The traditional belief that the firewall is the fundamental protector of corporate data just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny at McLaren. If a document fell into the wrong hands, it would be detrimental to the McLaren business – with the IT team held accountable for any wrongful exchanges.”

– Stuart Birrell, CIO, McLaren Group

Challenge: Protecting Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is the backbone of the McLaren Honda business, with its reputation and competitive advantage hinging on the protection of its confidential information. At this same time, the ability to collaborate easily and quickly across a highly mobile work force with widely distributed suppliers and customers is a competitive necessity. McLaren Honda employees frequently work with highly sensitive information associated with design, manufacturing, and track-side planning. For example, as the exclusive supplier of engine telemetry systems for their rival Grand Prix racing teams, as well as Indy Car and NASCAR, they had to be able to guarantee this information remained confidential and secret. 

McLaren Honda had no standardized approach to collaboration, with the result that some groups used email and FTP sites while others had adopted consumer-grade file sharing applications like Dropbox. It was impossible for the IT department to determine where data had been sent, or impose a uniform standard of security and control on how information was shared responsibly. Other problems arose. Versioning of documents such as design specifications became hard to manage. Creating a collaboration space for a project was time consuming, while controlling how information was exchanged with third parties was often impossible. For McLaren Honda, speed was critical — not just on the race track but across their whole business — and their inability to collaborate efficiently was slowing them down. 

Solution: Security, control, and the freedom to share

McLaren Honda understood that they needed a uniform approach to collaboration that would improve efficiency and provide robust controls to secure their valuable data.

They had specific requirements. Recognizing that getting their employees to adopt any new product would be challenging, they needed a solution that could be easily integrated with existing tools and applications like Microsoft SharePoint, and that wouldn’t force users to abandon familiar and productive ways of working. Given that its workforce had acclimatized to consumer file-sharing products, it was crucial that any new solution be as easy to use as those cloud-based applications.

The IT department needed to be able to manage security at the individual document level, supported by information rights management capabilities and the ability to control or revoke access to information at will. Strong administrative tools would make adoption and management easier and lower costs. Finding a vendor that had significant experience working with customers operating in highly regulated industries, and that had a global support infrastructure in place, was important.

The company decided to partner with Intralinks to enable its teams to share highly sensitive information with suppliers, partners, engineers, and race staff with greater confidence. The two companies are working closely together to implement Intralinks VIA®, a secure and scalable SaaS platform for file sharing and collaboration within and beyond the corporate firewall.

Intralinks VIA will extend McLaren Honda’s existing security protocols at the document level, making it easy to sync, share, and revoke access to files. Provisioning and managing accounts will be easy to administer. Creating ad hoc collaboration with internal staff and external partners and suppliers will be simple for end users to manage, a critical feature for an organization that is very dynamic and needs to be agile.

In addition, Intralinks’ UNshare™ capability will provide the IT department with the added peace of mind of knowing that any document can be revoked at any time, to prevent information from getting into the wrong hands.


When evaluating Intralinks VIA, McLaren Honda identified numerous opportunities to improve efficiency. Collaborative work spaces would be faster to set up and quicker to implement. The collaborative process would become more transparent, leading to a reduction in errors. Furthermore, these benefits would apply not only to its employees, but to the extended community of partners and suppliers.

McLaren Honda has identified several use cases for Intralinks VIA. These include collaborating with their supply chain around drawings and design specifications relating to the McLaren Honda race car as well as McLaren Automotive’s 12C and P1 supercars. Intralinks will be used to send certified software updates for the engine control units provided by McLaren Electronic Systems to Grand Prix, NASCAR, and Indy Car, and will be deployed at race time to support information exchange between their headquarter operations in the UK and race pit staff at the Grand Prix. There are even plans to use Intralinks to streamline information exchange with McLaren Automotive dealerships worldwide, as well as supporting the legal teams with internal and external collaboration.

“There are several hundred engineers and partners developing the Formula 1 car around the clock, all year round. Even during the race weekend, the innovation cycle does not stop, and we need to ensure our race engineers have easy and secure access to the latest version of a plan, even if it was just created halfway across the world. Working from old plans could mean a loss of just a millisecond on a lap, making the difference between winning and losing. With the help of Intralinks, our race engineers have real-time support around the clock from partners and employees around the world.”

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