As early as 2019, McLaren Beverly Hills launched three special Senna models that commemorated the driving feats of the Formula 1 driver. Now a latecomer follows.
Ayrton Senna drove for the McLaren Formula 1 team for six years. The outstanding sporting record during this time: three world championship titles, 35 Grand Prix victories and 46 pole positions. Consequently, the car manufacturer McLaren dedicated a model to its most successful F1 driver: At the Geneva Motor Show in 2018, the McLaren Senna, a super sports car limited to just 500 units with a four-liter twin-turbo V8 that delivers 800 hp and a maximum of 800 Newton meters, made its debut. The driving performance: zero to one hundred in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h. The basic price in Germany: 922,250 euros.
McLaren Beverly Hills was obviously not enough to honor the Brazilian racing driver who died much too young and who many still consider to be the best driver in Formula 1 history. In autumn 2019, the authorized dealer in the greater Los Angeles area had McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the sports car manufacturer’s customization department based at its Woking headquarters in the UK, launch an exclusive edition that originally included three McLaren Senna models in a special outfit.
780 hours of work for the custom decor
Each of them was based on an XP version of the Senna. These are experimental prototypes and first test vehicles, which McLaren traditionally includes in the respective model range after the start of series production, then built according to individual customer specifications and finally sold. Each copy of this Exclusive Edition celebrates a different sporting feat by Ayrton Senna with a special outfit. For the special features of each car alone, the employees of MSO needed around 780 working hours.
The design is (almost) always the same. A McLaren Senna from the special edition presents an unpainted carbon body. The hand-painted rear wings, which show the national colors of the countries in which Senna achieved some of its legendary victories, serve as a contrast. The start number that Senna's car wore in the year of the triumph is also located on the end plates. The color scheme can also be found in the sill area, on the front and rear aprons, on the roof hood and on the front hood. When the doors are open, an airbrushed scene of the respective Grand Prix and Senna's signature are revealed at the entrance. The contrasting color can also be found on the brake calipers.
Colored seats, colored details
Every McLaren Senna XP from the Exclusive Edition also takes up the theme on the inside. The colored seats are particularly eye-catching.But also small details such as tinted carbon inserts, the colored 12 o'clock marking on the steering wheel, an etched gas pedal and headrests with the flag of the country in which the race took place round off the unique look. Speaking of which: Of course, an interior badge that indicates the unique status should not be missing.
The car designed in Brazilian colors called "Vitória em Casa" (Portuguese for "home win") is dedicated to the 1991 Interlagos Grand Prix. Senna was at loggerheads with his home race for a long time, which he won for the first time – in his eighth year as a regular driver. But the racing god didn't make it easy for him in this Grand Prix either: In the last laps, the transmission of his McLaren-Honda complained; Senna decided not to change gears anymore and to finish the race in sixth gear. At this point he was far enough ahead of the competition to salvage victory shortly before the end, despite the onset of rain. The inhumane exertion that was shown in the episode when the Brazilian had to be lifted out of the cockpit by some colleagues after the race. Senna was simply too exhausted to get out on her own.
Remembering the "Round of the Gods"
Senna's victory at the GP Europe, which was held in Donington, UK, in 1993 was a very different kind of hussar ride. He competed again that year in the McLaren, although the British racer was uncompetitive after switching from Honda to Ford engines. Fifth place on the grid didn't actually correspond to Senna level, but there was simply nothing more to squeeze out of the McLaren MP4/8. But that didn't matter either, because the Brazilian returned from the first lap as the leader. It is considered the "Lap of the Gods". This is also the additional designation of the second McLaren Senna from the Exclusive Edition, which presents the British colors. Incidentally, Ayrton Senna won the race by more than a minute ahead of Damon Hill. Incidentally, the Briton in the actually superior Williams-Renault was the only driver that Senna did not lap.
The McLaren Senna, nicknamed "Master of Monaco", does not refer to a single race, but generally to the fastest harbor tour in the world. Ayrton Senna was able to win the Grand Prix on the Cote d'Azur a total of six times (in 1987 and from 1989 to 1993 even five times in a row) - no other Formula 1 driver managed more Monaco victories. Particularly impressive is the onboard video from qualifying in 1988, which is still an example of Senna's driving skills today. On this lap, as he confessed in the interview, he "was no longer conscious" and took more than 1.4 seconds off his teammate Alain Prost. Incidentally, he also led the race with great superiority before he crashed his McLaren into the guardrail in front of the tunnel due to a lack of concentration.In retrospect, if Senna had brought home the win, he would have even achieved seven Monaco successes in a row.
Fourth Senna-Senna as a latecomer
Two and a half years after the special model trio, McLaren Beverly Hills is launching a fourth Senna XP in honor of the Formula 1 grandmaster. It's called "El Triunfo Absoluto", the absolute triumph, and commemorates the victory in Mexico in 1989. Senna started in Mexico City from pole position and won in a superior manner. It was his third of six wins of the season. However, teammate Alain Prost won the title this season. Mainly because the legendary crash between the Frenchman and Senna happened in the penultimate race in Japan. You know the story: both McLaren drivers collided in the narrow chicane before start-finish, Prost retired, Senna drove on and won - and was finally disqualified, which is still a cause for debate and conspiracy theories today.
By the way, Pato O'Ward drives the special Senna in the photos and video. O'Ward competes for the McLaren team in the Indycar Series and won the race in Alabama on May 1, 2022. He dedicated his victory to Ayrton Senna, who died in an accident exactly 28 years earlier on the tragic Formula 1 weekend in Imola. This is also an XP vehicle that was once on the road in the USA as a press test vehicle. Last year, the MSO squad in Woking got to work customizing the car, which is why it's only now being delivered in California. It was built according to a similar concept to the three predecessors - with two key differences: the carbon body is not bare but painted in graphite grey, and the interior is less colorful.
McLaren Beverly Hills has not announced the price of the youngest offspring of the Ayrton Senna tribute special series. That was different with the predecessors: They cost exactly 1,435,328 dollars per piece. This currently corresponds to the equivalent of 1,333,291 euros.
Ayrton Senna cannot be honored enough. It is therefore absolutely justified that there is now not only one McLaren sports car that bears his name, but also four individual pieces, each of which is reminiscent of different sporting feats of the three-time champion. The Senna "El Triunfo Absoluto" should really be the last example that McLaren Beverly Hills is launching as part of its Exclusive Edition.