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800hp McLaren Senna unleashed on world. Image by McLaren.

800hp McLaren Senna unleashed on world
Latest Ultimate Series addition is the Senna, a carbon-tubbed racer for the road.
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What's all this about?

Feast your eyes on this thing. Hard to take in, isn't it?

I'm... not familiar with the type of thing I'm seeing. What on Earth is it?

It's the latest addition to the McLaren Ultimate Series, which brought us the P1 and P1 GTR hybrid hypercars. This one, though, is called the Senna.

As in, Ayrton Senna?

As in Ayrton Senna. Given the Brazilian demigod used to race for McLaren in its heyday, this track car that's (barely) road legal is deemed fit to bear his legendary name. And what a spec we have.

OK, hit me with what details you've got so far.

The McLaren Senna has a carbon fibre Monocage III chassis and every body panel on it is carbon fibre. The looks are truly astonishing - a mix of the Batmobile and 720S, the Senna's frightful form (come on, it's not a looker, is it?) is a case of it slavishly following function. It has full active aero at both ends, generates a significant (but as-yet unspecified) amount of downforce and rides on RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension, which can adjust the ride height and damper stiffness as it sees fit. Huge louvres and vents aid cooling for the mid-mounted biturbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol, the most powerful combustion engine the company has ever made.

Oh, goody! So it makes more than the P1's 903hp?

Um, no. Read the statement above again. The Senna makes 800hp and 800Nm from its MT840TR, more than the P1's 737hp mid-mounted petrol V8 could muster up. But the P1 had electric augmentation, whereas the Senna does not. However, the latest McLaren Ultimate Series has another trick up its sleeve...

Which is?

It weighs just 1,198kg, making it the lightest production road-going McLaren since the F1 of the 1990s. With a power-to-weight ratio of 668hp-per-tonne - yes, six-hundred and sixty-eight horsepower... PER TONNE - that should make the Senna, like its namesake, quite extraordinarily fast. And while the Senna is road legal, it's designed to be a track car first and foremost. For instance, there is no concession to interior storage on board, the two-seat Macca only having enough room for a couple of racing helmets and race suits to be stashed at the back of the cockpit.

Can you tell me much else?

Not a huge amount at the moment, although we can say the Senna will have carbon ceramic brakes as standard and Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres for maximum grip. Furthermore, McLaren says that 'painstaking work on the damping and steering weight has ensured that the car feels fully 'alive' well below its upper limits'. Just 500 will be hand-built at Woking at a cost of 750,000 each. And they've all been sold already apparently. Oh.

Right, but calling it Senna was brave, right? What does Ayrton's family think about it?

They're good with it, if Bruno Senna - his nephew, who happens to be a racing driver and McLaren ambassador - is anything to go by: "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 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."

When will we find out more about performance and such?

When the McLaren Senna gets its full reveal at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2018.

Matt Robinson - 10 Dec 2017

2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.

2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.2018 McLaren Senna. Image by McLaren.    - McLaren road tests
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