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McLaren hypercar takes Senna name

Successful formula: McLaren has paid tribute to one of its Formula 1 team’s most successful drivers, Ayrton Senna, with its latest hypercar.

Brutal Senna hypercar to be the most powerful road-legal McLaren yet

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McLaren logo11 Dec 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

MCLAREN has named its latest Ultimate Series hypercar after legendary Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, and the company says it is powered by the most powerful internal combustion engine in a McLaren to date.

Ayrton Senna is regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time and won three championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990 and 1991 before dying in a horrific crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Italy.

The British car-maker says the Senna will be limited to 500 units that will be hand-assembled at its Woking, UK facility, and it will be priced from £750,000 ($A1.3m).

All 500 units have been snapped up already and it is unclear how many, if any, will make it to Australia, but a statement from McLaren says to expect it Down Under following its public debut.

“McLaren Senna will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show next year, and we are likely to see it in Australia towards the second half of 2018.”

The “road-legal, track-concentrated” Senna is the latest Ultimate Series model, following the sold-out hybrid P1 hypercar and preceding the BP23 Mercedes-AMG Project One rival that is expected to make its debut in 2019.

Based on the underpinnings of the McLaren 720S, the Senna uses the same 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine as its sibling, but with power and torque dialled up by 58kW/30Nm to 588kW and 800Nm, driven to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with Comfort, Sport or Track powertrain modes.

McLaren has not revealed performance figures for the Senna, but expect it to beat out the 2.9-second 0-100km/h sprint time of the 720S.

The carbon-fibre chassis is a development of the one from the 720S and the brand says it is the strongest ever used in a road-legal McLaren model.

Each body panel is made from carbon-fibre, helping ensure the 1198kg Senna is also the lightest road-legal McLaren since the F1 (1138kg).

McLaren says the Senna visually “shocks”, with an “aggressive, unforgiving” look that has done away with the organic shapes of the 720S in favour of a design that “purposely fragmented in pursuit of absolute performance”.

The designers focused on downforce and aerodynamic balance as the guiding principles for the Senna, which is another example of the company’s form follows function design philosophy.

At the rear is a double diffuser and a massive rear wing that sits 1219mm from the ground at its highest point when stationary and constantly adjusts when on the move to optimise downforce and aerodynamic balance as well as acting as an airbrake under heavy braking.

The cabin is bathed in carbon-fibre and either Alcantara or leather is available for the seat covers and fascia, while the minimal approach is reflected in the few buttons and the three-spoke steering wheel which has no switches.

Most functions are housed in the McLaren Folding Driver Display and the central infotainment screen. McLaren says storage space is restricted to a chamber behind the seats that can fit two helmets and race suits.

The Senna’s suspension is a development of the setup in the P1, which is all-independent, double-wishbone layout that features specially tuned dampers that are hydraulically interconnected as well as another hydraulic system that acts as an anti-roll bar.

It includes McLaren’s RaceActive Chassis Control II that uses an automatic stiffness control dubbed K-damper and together it will adapt to road conditions automatically, although this can also be done manually via the Active Dynamics Panel in the centre console.

The Senna has carbon ceramic brakes – the most advanced system ever used in a McLaren road car, according to the company – as well as bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres wrapped around ultra-lightweight alloy wheels with a race-inspired centre lock system.

“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 McLaren Automotive chief executive officer Mike Flewitt.

“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.” Racing driver and McLaren Ambassador Bruno Senna said the Brazilian legend’s family were proud of the involvement with McLaren.

“Our family is extremely proud of the naming of the new Ultimate Series McLaren Senna,” he said. “This is the first project that really connects with Ayrton’s racing spirit and performance. 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.”

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