McLaren has unveiled its most extreme track car yet, the Senna … yes, named after the legendary Formula 1 driver. And it’s road legal.
“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,” said Bruno Senna, racing driver and McLaren Ambassador, and nephew of Ayrton Senna. “The McLaren Senna honours 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.”
It’s the lightest McLaren road car since the F1, thanks to carbon-fibre chassis and body, tipping the scales at 1,198 kg. It is powered by McLaren’s most powerful internal combustion engine ever, a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8 putting out 789 hp and 590 lb-ft. Controlled by a 7-speed paddle-shift dual clutch gearbox, it’s wrapped up in the optimum mid-engine, rear-drive platform.
But it’s not just about power, the 2-seater has also been made to handle the twists and turns of everyday driving, with a race-derived double-wishbone suspension and electro-hydraulic steering meant to make it the best road-legal track car ever (whereas the recent P1 was meant to provide the best mix of performance for track and road).
“The McLaren Senna is a car like no other: the personification of McLaren’s motorsport DNA, legalised for road use but designed and developed from the outset to excel on a circuit,” said Mike Flewitt, McLaren’s Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
The overall presentation is visually shocking – with organic flow giving way to fragmentation to the benefit of absolute performance, with ground breaking front and rear active body pieces to raise downforce, control the flow of air better, and provide cooling to components that need it. For example, the rear wing constantly adjusts to optimise the levels of downforce and aerodynamic balance, and functions as an airbrake under heavy braking (supplementing the carbon-ceramic discs).
The dihedral carbon-fibre doors hinge forwards and upwards, easily opening with a portion of the roof, to unveil an opening made for easy entry and exit of the minimalist interior. Interior materials include carbon fibre, Alcantara and leather. Driver controls on and surrounding the steering wheel are at a minimum to reduce “cockpit clutter.”
“The McLaren Senna delivers true performance, all the way to the limit of a driver’s ability. With a truly astonishing power-to-weight ratio, this car is about performance that is accessible and attainable, yet at the same time exciting and challenging for the very best drivers in the world – and with an intense, sensory experience to match,” concluded Andy Palmer, Vehicle Line Director of the McLaren Ultimate Series.
Only 500 Sennas will be made (assembled by hand at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, England) starting in the third quarter of 2018. Price is set at £750,000 (about $1.3 million Canadian).