McLaren releases its newest road-going track weapon - the Senna
McLaren has managed to hype up a bunch of its latest developments in the last few months, with talks of a three-seater F1 successor and an all-electric hypercar that seem to be a few years down the road. Tonight however, the company invited customers to witness its new ultimate track weapon for the road – the Senna.
The latest edition to McLaren's Ultimate Series takes on a different dynamic from its P1 predecessor. While the P1 was manufactured to be the best driver's car on both road and track that the company could produce, the Senna's track prowess completely takes precedent while keeping the car fully road legal.
The circuit-focussed road car was initially codenamed the P15 but has now taken on a badge that carries some serious weight from the marque’s motorsport history. Now to be officially known as the McLaren Senna, the new supercar pays homage to the three-time F1 world champion and is named so due to the fact that it is the company's most extreme road car to date, honouring the mighty Brazilian's talents.
The stats are as follows – 789bhp (800PS) and 590lb ft (800Nm) from a revised version of the 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V8 from the 720S. That makes this internal combustion unit the most powerful ever produced by McLaren, with its output being a full 62bhp more than that found in the P1. That been achieved by upgrading the internals and creating a bespoke turbocharger setup. A hybrid system has been left well alone to minimise weight, helping the car keeps its mass down to just 1,198kg, making the Senna the lightest road-going McLaren since the 240mph F1.
The design uses the carbon fibre Monocage III chassis of the 720S as a base but has pushed the extremities of the car to make for a much more hunkered, domineering aesthetic. The front overhang is the standout feature, with the front wheel seemingly inserted as part of the cabin with a huge front splitter-led overhang.
Aerodynamically, the McLaren engineers haven't held back, slicing chunks out of somewhat recognisable bodywork to create the most functional design possible. According to them, air "cannot follow a single line from the front to the rear without it passing through a functional air intake or vent". Cooling the ballistic powertrain on-board is further helped by prominent gurney flaps ahead of stepped louvres directing air away from the rear deck and down the sides of the body, thus sucking heat energy from the main radiators and engine bay.
The main downforce creation occurs at the rear, with the Senna utilising a large double diffuser that begins at the rear axle as one solid piece of carbon fibre. By creating an area of low pressure air, the car will be sucked downwards into the tarmac, massively increasing corner speeds over past McLaren road cars. Also helping at the rear is a new two-tier rear wing that in true McLaren spirit is actuated through active hydraulics.
Front and rear active aero is one of the Senna's many party pieces. Three massive air intakes and a huge active carbon-fibre front splitter adjust using air blades to maximise downforce across the front axle.
The doors use a dihedral hinge and effectively feature two windows each - an upper window that is mostly fixed apart from a small sliding element, and an optional pane of glass that can replace a standard carbon fibre door insert, allowing a driver to see the track directly to his side, which should enhance the visual connection with the onrushing tarmac. To achieve this door design, the release mechanisms and window switches are housed alongside the engine start button in a carbon fibre console above the driver’s head.
The cockpit is predictably stripped back, with exposed carbon fibre everywhere. Even the three-spoke steering wheel is completely lacking any unnecessary buttons that could distract a driver from focussing on that all-important lap time. An upfront folding digital display shows the driver everything that he needs to see and a central high-definition infotainment screen sits slap bang in the middle of the cabin.
According to McLaren, the Senna should be theatrical in the audio department, with the roof-mounted 'snorkel' intake leading into a carbon fibre plenum. This apparently makes for a finely tuned inlet sound that will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention with every throttle input.
Bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres will give the Senna the lateral grip it needs to monster every track it sets foot on.
McLaren has described the Senna as "the ultimate track car for the road" and one that will “live up to its namesake”. If the 675 LT was previously the hardcore, characterful component of McLaren’s range, the Senna seems to take that mantle and furthered it towards insanity, even eclipsing the mighty P1 hypercar. McLaren admits that it has designed the car against its trademark of everyday usability and has instead opted for a completely unsanitised package that should see it rival full GT3-spec racing cars on track.
The brutal design shall be exposed to the public via its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, with McLaren aiming to manufacture 500 of these aero-heavy supercars by the latter half of 2018. It'll cost a casual £750,000, but considering how capable this machine looks, it might just be worth it.