McLaren Senna- a worthy bearer of the revered name?

Ayrton Senna is a name of mythic proportions; a bundle of was-es and could have been-s. Widely regarded as the greatest driver to grace a racetrack, he became an unfulfilled talent when his life was abruptly cut short at the age of 33. 
As a tribute to the Brazilian virtuoso, McLaren has crafted a car,thought to be the most brutal track machine they have ever built, outside of Formula 1.
At this point, a question looms-
Is the McLaren Senna worthy enough to carry his legacy forward?


As goes the description in the maker’s official website-
“The McLaren Senna is the personification of McLaren’s DNA at its most extreme, creating the purest connection between car and driver. It is the most track-focused road car we have ever built, and it will set the fastest lap times of any McLaren to date. That is what has driven us to build a track car that is unashamedly without compromise. One that is legalised for road use, but not sanitised to suit it. Nothing else matters but to deliver the most intense driving experience around a circuit.”

It is worth remembering that the newest addition to the McLaren Ultimate Series follows in the skidmarks of the hallowed machines, the F1 and the P1, which makes the claim all the more significant. However, Senna is not a spiritual successor to P1.

The Specifications

The brutal performance generated by the four liter, twin turbocharged V8 derived from McLaren 720S can be sampled from an array of impressive numbers. The specs seem to follow the rule of 800 as it generates an astounding 800 PS of peak power and 800 Nm of Torque. Oh, and the giant spoiler in conjunction with the Formula One inspired roof scoop produces 800 Kg of Downforce at 155 MPH.
Here are some stats to drool over:
0-100 in 2.8s
0-200 in 6.8s
0-300 in 17.5s
Gah, you go, thinking that a P1 or any other hypercar can put Senna to shame with its power figures.
This is when I have to impress upon you that power figures are not everything that defines the performance of a track-oriented machine.
The key area the engineers at McLaren appear to have focused on is not the engine- it is its carbon fiber body and an interior which is stripped off of anything that is not absolutely required. With every pound of weight accounted for, the car tips the scales at 1198 Kg- which makes the car the lightest they have ever produced, since the legendary F1.The massive amount of Downforce, however, sticks its anorexic body on to the track while in motion.
The highlight of the car- the brakes from Brembo which takes seven months to manufacture- yes, you read that right, brings the car to a standstill from 100 KPH in under 30 meters.
You think the car looks fast on paper? Brace for impact. Hold on to your seat. 

McLaren Senna GTR- the track focused, non-road legal sister of the already track focused Senna- was revealed at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. The GTR badge is given for a reason- the version is touted to be considerably faster and nimbler than its road going sibling. According to the sources at McLaren, it is more powerful and will feature a more race-orientated dual clutch transmission with bespoke tires from Pirelli.
The reviews are extremely positive, with many of them showering  praises on the stopping power of the Brembo brakes and the insane aerodynamics.
Sean Carson of Auto express gave the car a five star rating, calling it “the ultimate expression of performance, yet given the acceleration, the aerodynamic grip and the braking potential it’s relatively approachable. It’s stupendous and deserves its iconic name (sic)”.
Evo, the British car magazine, too gave it a five star rating. Praising McLaren's eye for detail, they said
“The Senna’s interior has been developed solely as an environment in which to drive quickly. In doing so, it takes the staples of the modern McLaren-the laid back, race car-style driving position, fabulous panoramic view and driver-centric control layout- and evolves them with a sharper focus on track ergonomics. Climbing in is hardly graceful, the driver needing to vault the sill and fit through the gap enabled by the butterfly doors.”

Flip side

Petrol heads were displeased with the way the car looks, even when it was still in the design phase. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, said a certain William Shakespeare.
“It’s made for the wind tunnel,not the human eye or heart”       
                                                                                          -WIRED magazine
As mentioned earlier, the interior is stripped off any bells and whistles that may come attached to a multi-million dollar hyper car. Senna is track focused and hence that isn’t much of a drawback, as it may seem to be.
Every single one of the 500 Sennas to be rolled out have been spoken for; so are the 25 Senna GTRs. As a matter of fact, the 500th Senna was sold in an auction for a whopping £2mn, against an MSRP of £750,000. The price is only going to skyrocket, and good luck finding one!

I think it is apt to sum up with the following snippet from McLaren’s website:
“Inspired by one of McLaren’s greatest racing drivers, the McLaren Senna is utterly dedicated to allowing the driver to be the best they can possibly be.”

The legacy is intact. Senna sempre.

About author

Pranav PS is a B-tech student from Trivandrum. An incurable petrol-head, he follows the world of hypercars closely. You can reach him at


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