The Speed of a Senna

McLaren Senna is the world’s fastest road-legal track car. It was named after Ayrton Senna who was a Brazilian Formula One racer and three-time champion, and regarded as one of the best drivers in the world. He was known for pushing a car to the limit and revealing its maximum potential. He also holds six wins at the Monaco Grand Prix, the race’s fifth most winning driver. He was the focus of a documentary, “Senna,” released in 2010 focusing on his illustrious career.

Tragically, Senna died May 1, 1994 at the age of 34 when his Formula One race car crashed at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. There’s still a lot of controversy around the cause of the mechanical failure that made him lose control and ultimately lose his life. The world of motorsports learned something from this heartbreaking accident and after, safety became an even higher priority, claiming more protection for drivers.

Ayrton Senna once said, “You commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have, everything, absolutely everything.” McLaren found his single-minded focus in the pursuit of victory an inspiration and built a car in his memory.

McLaren recently announced their first customer just picked up his Senna 001 and wasted no time taking the hypercar on an 870 mile trip to France where he could attend the McLaren driving experience and push the Senna’s limit to the max on a proper track. The buyer committed to buying the car the minute he was aware McLaren was developing such a beast. This was even before it had a name. It’s reminiscent of all the Apple fans who would line up outside an Apple store to pick up the latest iPhone without even seeing one in person.

At the end of his drive, this early buyer revealed the hypercar exceeded his expectations. That’s not surprising to hear knowing McLaren, Senna, and their history. Senna is no ordinary car. It offers many custom features including Ayrton Senna’s signature on the inside of the doors, his “S” logo on the headrests, all three years of his Formula One championship on the gas pedal and a layout of the Brazilian Interlagos printed on the hood. It seems they had him in mind every step of the way and in every engineering development. It’s a powerful statement to the legend of Aryton Senna.

McLaren Senna shares some basics with the 720S. The chassis tub is made from high-quality carbon fiber, four-liter twin-turbo V8, and seven-speed double clutch gearbox. What sets Senna apart is the additional downforce, less weight, and extra horsepower. The most astonishing fact about Senna is it’s road legal, which means it meets all the requirements an average car needs to pass in order to be allowed on public roads.


The only downside to driving a supercar like Senna on a normal road is you would very quickly realize that comfort was not at the top of the engineer’s list when they designed the car. You can feel every bump in the road and the vibrations are easily transferred through the seats. It has a state-of-the-art suspension, with calculations by the millisecond and adjusts to provide the ultimate race experience. But it’s definitely not as comfortable as a saloon, which isn’t expected of a hypercar at this level. All of that downforce is really needed on the race track, but you probably wouldn’t use much of it on the road. The engine sounds amazing but it may get a bit annoying in the cabin after a long drive. Senna screams “take me to a track” from miles away, where you can unveil the full potential of this beast. You wouldn’t have to worry about taking a break to stretch your legs since you’d frequently be looking for a gas station to fill up this baby. Senna gets an average of 20.6 miles per gallon which isn’t bad considering the 720S gets around 27 miles per gallon. Even though the car is road legal, it was mainly built for a track and a quick drive would prove that.

You can order Senna in full exposed carbon fiber, a beautiful look, especially under the sun. Most car enthusiasts are concerned with rock chips on the front bumper and side mirrors, so even though these cars are meant to be tracked, they spend most of their time on streets or sitting in a garage. Recently, however, enthusiasts have begun covering their entire car with a clear protective film which is hard to notice, but would definitely protect the paint. Some track junkies put multiple layers of painters’ tape on their front bumper, hood and side mirrors to avoid rock chips. This is a cheap but effective temporary solution if you find yourself on a track one day and looking for alternative protection, or if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on paint protection films, also known as PPF.

You may be wondering how much a McLaren Senna costs. It starts at $837k and for that you get a base track-focused hypercar with many personalized touches featuring carbon fiber parts as well as a twin turbo 4 liter V8 which puts out 789 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque. While the Senna is very different from the Ferrari Enzo, both cars are in the same breath since they’re named after two very famous motorsports legend.

You’ll need proper tires to put this massive amount of power to the ground. This is why McLaren chose the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R at 315mm wide for the rears. These are some of the stickiest tires ever. Some people may not understand how important tires are and what an important role they play when it comes to power delivery. They’re essentially the last part of the car responsible propelling you 0-60 in just a few seconds, and holding up when you’re going for that top speed. Tire companies spend years developing tires that can withstand the heat and force that comes with this type of speed. Tires are also key when it comes to stopping distance. If your tires don’t have enough grip, it could take you another few feet which means a potential accident. Some car manufacturers work directly with tire manufacturers to develop a new tire to meet their exact specifications. Bugatti is a good example. They usually start with one of their top performance tires and take it an extra step above standard to make sure it can hold up to the power of a supercar.


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