As useless as it is to try to compare Nurburgring Nordschleife lap times (the variables are nearly endless) it's nonetheless a favorite pastime for the industry, media, and enthusiasts. Accordingly, it makes sense that McLaren would be doing a share of its final testing of the MP4-12C there, tuning the suspension and dynamics controls to make the most of a lap around the famed circuit.
Unfortunately, when pushing at full clip, things sometimes go wrong--particularly in not-yet-polished prototypes. Like ground-based test pilots, test drivers are encouraged to not only help improve the car they're testing, but to find its limits as well. The limit of the MP4-12C prototype testing at the 'Ring this week was found, and rapidly passed.
The result was what witnesses called a "large impact" that caused guard rail damage, fluid spillage, and a delay of the opening of the public session that was to follow the private session during which the McLaren crashed. The stretch of the course where the incident happened was declared a "roadworks zone."
A helicopter camera crew was also seen trying to keep pace with the McLaren, but official representatives said it wasn't with them. As for the matter of setting a benchmark 'Ring run, McLaren said that may yet be on the table, but that it's "not the focus of our activity."