A 780-hp tribute to a racing legend


McLaren Automotive recently unveiled its road legal track special called the Senna, in honor of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.

“Our family is extremely proud of the naming of the new Ultimate Series McLaren Senna. This is the first project that really connects with Ayrton’s racing spirit and performance. The McLaren Senna honors my uncle because it is so utterly dedicated to delivering a circuit experience that allows a driver to be the best they can possibly be. There is an absolute, seamless connection between car and driver and this pure engagement, these sensory cues that a driver responds to and relies upon, ensure an experience so focused and immersive that you are left in awe of the depths of excellence the McLaren Senna possesses,” racing driver Bruno Senna said in a statement.

Conceived as a racing car built for road use, the Senna was built under the Ultimate series alongside the McLaren P1, but, unlike the P1, it does not utilize a hybrid system. According to McLaren, while the Senna is a racetrack killer, the P1 leans more on grand touring that can be enjoyed on country roads as well.

The Senna utilizes a more powerful version of the 720S’ dry sump 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V8 codenamed M840TR. It sends all 789 hp and 800Nm of torque to the rear wheels, making it the most powerful internal combustion engine McLaren has made. McLaren has not revealed any performance details such as the 0-60 mph (0-96 kph) time or the top speed, but thanks to a dry weight of 1,116 kilograms, the performance can be considered beyond blistering by some. McLaren has also claimed that it will have the same power-to-weight ratio as a Ferrari LaFerrari, which can sprint from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds.

No radio, air-conditioning
For track-prepped cars, weight hinders a car’s full potential, and so is the Senna. For the sake of performance, it gets no radio, no air-conditioning or any creature comfort you find in a garden variety supercar. To keep it street legal however, McLaren felt compelled to give the car side airbags and leather or Alcantara seats, but the rest is bare carbon. A choice of carbon or glass are fitted to the lower half of the door, to the customer’s experience, whether the driver likes a more visceral sensory experience or is pursuing the limits of performance. Some of the buttons are located on the roof mounted console panel, allowing the driver to focus more on the road.

Active aerodynamics and a tricked out hydraulic suspension system called the RaceActive Chassis Control II maximizes the cornering performance of the Senna, something that the legendary Ayrton would have wanted. Also adding to the racecar recipe include carbon brakes and special sticky Pirelli P-Zero tyres that were co-developed with McLaren.

The Senna may look like a space-age spacecraft, and that’s because it is designed purely by science, harnessing air using its body panels and air intakes to produce extreme amounts of down force. Even a huge rear wing is added, which also functions as an air brake, for the sake of aerodynamic efficiency. One example are gaps on the headlights (inspired by the 720S) that channels copious amounts of air to the door intakes and into the rear diffuser.

“The McLaren Senna is a car like no other: the personification of McLaren’s motor sports DNA, legalized for road use but designed and developed from the outset to excel on a circuit. Every element of this new Ultimate Series McLaren has an uncompromised performance focus, honed to ensure the purest possible connection between driver and machine and deliver the ultimate track driving experience in the way that only a McLaren can,” McLaren Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt added.

All 500 Sennas have been spoken for, and all except one are priced at £750,000. The 500th model is sold at an auction for £2 million to charity for the Ayrton Senna Institute, which gives support to poor and underprivileged children of Brazil.


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